VICTORIA, B.C. -- A container ship that lost dozens of containers when it encountered rough seas off the Washington Coast Friday later caught fire after reaching port near Victoria, British Columbia, Canadian Coast Guard officials said.
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Officials said that 10 of the containers that remained on the M/V ZIM Kingston were heavily damaged after the fire broke out Saturday morning. Sixteen crew members on board were evacuated with five remaining on board to help with firefighting efforts. No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire remains unclear.
But chemicals on board the ship made fighting the fire difficult, with firefighters unable to put water directly on the flames, Coast Guard officials said. Two burning containers carried Potassium Amylxanthate, the Coast Guard said.
The Coast Guard established a two-mile emergency zone around the ship as fireboats applied water to the hull to cool the vessel.
By late Sunday morning, officials reported a reduction in fire and smoke just as a storm brewing in the Pacific was moving ashore.
"Gale force winds are predicted for the area," Canadian Coast Guard officials said. "Teams will be monitoring air quality both on the water and on shore."
And by Sunday evening, crews said the fire was stabilized and depending on the weather, hazardous materials crews would board the ship Monday to fight any remaining fires and ensure the fire is out. Emergency tow vessels and Coast Guard crews will monitor the ship to ensure the five remaining crew members remain safe.
On Friday, the ZIM Kingston first ran into trouble about 43 miles west of Neah Bay, Wash., when large waves caused the ship to list to its side, dumping 40 shipping containers into the Pacific Ocean.
A U.S. Coast Guard crew from Port Angeles spotted 35 of the containers drifting north from the scene and monitoring their progress.
They were last spotted about 12 miles off the west coast of Vancouver Island near Bamfield.
"With a significant weather event arriving Sunday, recovering of the containers may be challenging," says officials with the Canadian Coast Guard. They are continuing to broadcast warnings alerting nearby mariners of the significant risk.
Conditions have been rough in the Pacific as a series of powerful storms push through the area, including one storm that moved through Thursday measured at 951 millibars central pressure. Seas were estimated around 15 feet where the ship encountered trouble.