Fire burns aboard container ship off coast of British Columbia

VICTORIA, British Columbia — A container fire aboard a freight ship off the coast of British Columbia continued to burn Sunday after response vessels spent the night dousing the boat’s hull with water, authorities said.

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According to the Canadian Coast Guard, most of the crew of the MV Zim Kingston was evacuated Saturday after containers on the ship caught fire, KIRO-TV reported.

The ship is now anchored about five miles off the coast of Victoria, the provincial capital, the television station reported.

“Due to the nature of chemicals on board the container ship, applying water directly to the fire is not an option,” the Canadian Coast Guard tweeted Sunday.

The Canadian Coast Guard said the fire broke out in 10 damaged containers aboard the ship according to The Associated Press. Two of the burning containers held hazardous material identified as potassium amylxanthate, according to CBC News.

The 13-year-old vessel itself is not on fire, but officials said an emergency zone was set up for one nautical mile around it, the AP reported.

Transport Canada banned drones and aircraft from flying over the scene, CBC News reported.

Sixteen of the ship’s crew members were taken to an area hospital, according to KIRO.

Efforts to douse the flames might be hampered by a stormy weather forecast for the area Sunday, according to CBC News.

ZIM Integrated Shipping Services, which operates the ship, said in a statement on Friday that it “encountered very heavy weather conditions.”

“The vessel reported dozens of containers that fell overboard,” the firm said, adding that the containers caught fire at that point. “Most crew members were evacuated from the vessel, and a few stayed on board to assist with the firefighting efforts. All crew members are reported safe … Our main concern is the safety of the crew and prevention of environmental impact.”