Video Special: Containers overboard as huge cargo ship catches fire ‘expelling toxic gas’ off Victoria, B.C.

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On Sunday, an emergency zone was declared around a blazing cargo ship off western Canada after containers carrying more than 50 tons of a dangerous chemical caught fire, said the Canadian Coast Guard.

According to the Coast Guard, sixteen crew members were evacuated from the “Zim Kingston” off Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. Five crew members had remained onboard to fight the fire, it said.

A number of salmon producers are known to operate in the nearby San Juan Islands.

A notice on the Coast Guard’s Navigational Warnings website said the fire was “expelling toxic gas.”

The fire aboard the ship is thought to have been caused by a combustible chemical powder spilling from containers that were damaged in a storm Friday as the ship, arriving from South Korea, approached the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. At that time, about 40 of the ship’s containers tumbled into the Pacific Ocean in rough seas.

Ten containers were burning, according to the Coast Guard, which said the fire was continuing to spread. Two of the containers were carrying around 57 tons of xanthates, a chemical often used in mining.

Video obtained by SalmonBusiness shows fire cascading down from the deck into the water.

Canadian officials said they were working with their U.S. counterparts to track 40 containers that had fallen overboard, saying they pose a significant risk to mariners.

The “Zim Kingston”, an 853-feet-long container ship, left Busan, South Korea, on Oct. 5 headed for Vancouver.

The ship reported Friday that it had encountered rough weather west of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which separates Washington state and Vancouver Island.

Vessel Finder website data show that the “Zim Kingston” was built in 2008, that it sails under the Maltese flag.