A container ship carrying mining chemicals caught fire on Saturday, expelling toxic gas off the coast of British Columbia. The Canadian Coast Guard said it was working with the US Coast Guard to assess the situation, including environmental hazards.
16 crew members were evacuated from the MV Zim Kingston, while five remained onboard to fight the fire, the Canadian Coast Guard said in a statement late on Saturday.
Ten containers were burning, it said, adding that the fire continued to spread but the ship itself was not on fire.
The agency said it was working with its US counterpart to track 40 containers that had fallen overboard, saying they pose a significant risk to mariners.
“Mariners are advised to stay clear of the area. Currently there is no safety risk to people on shore, however the situation will continue to be monitored,” they said.
A video obtained by Reuters showed fire cascading down from the deck of the ship into the water.
The Zim Kingston reported on Friday that it had encountered rough weather west of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
“This is extremely concerning. The ship and containers are very close to Victoria, BC, and a big storm is forecast to hit tonight. We…are worried this may be yet another environmental disaster,” said David Boudinot, president of Surfrider Foundation Canada, an environmental organization.