Fire burns aboard container ship off British Columbia
Ships work to control a fire on-board the MV Zim Kingston about 8 kilometres (5 miles) from the shore in Victoria, British Columbia,Canada, yesterday (Photo: AP)

VICTORIA, British Columbia (AP) — A fire burned in several containers aboard a cargo ship off Canada's Pacific Coast province of British Columbia yesterday, and authorities said hazardous materials in two containers could pose a risk to maritime traffic but not to areas on shore.

The Canadian Coast Guard said it received word late last Saturday morning that a fire had broken out in 10 damaged containers aboard the MV Zim Kingston, which is now anchored about five miles off the provincial capital of Victoria.

The agency said two of the burning containers held potassium amylxanthate, a hazardous material that prevented the ship's crew from spraying cold water directly on the fire. It said an emergency zone had been doubled to two nautical miles around the Zim Kingston.

The agency said in a tweet that the hull of the ship had been cooled overnight by a tugboat spraying it with water. It noted the ship itself was not on fire.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria said 16 crew members were safely taken off the ship, while five others, including the captain, remained on board at their own behest.

The coast guard said a hazardous materials crew from Vancouver was mobilising and the owner of the Zim Kingston had contracted the United States-based Resolve Marine group for salvage operations, including firefighting and recovery of the containers.

Danaos Shipping Company, which manages the container ship, said in an e-mailed statement: “No injuries were reported. The fire appears to have been contained.”

Canadian Coast Guard spokeswoman Michelle Imbeau said a command post overseeing the operation was also working with the US Coast Guard to monitor 40 containers that fell overboard from the Zim Kingston in choppy waters last Friday and were floating about 12 nautical miles off the west coast of Vancouver Island, near Bamfield, British Columbia.

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