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Fire ignited on ship amid powerful storm off B.C. coast, crew removed

Monday, October 25th 2021, 9:35 am - According to Kevin MacKay, a meteorologist at The Weather Network, the ship was damaged by 160 km/h winds as it was in a holding pattern in the Pacific, then resulting in the containers catching fire.

Some of the crew on the MV Zim Kingston vessel had to be evacuated after a fire broke out Saturday morning during the ship's trek through stormy weather.

The vessel encountered rough seas during its voyage across the Pacific Saturday, resulting in containers catching fire and discharging toxic gas. Two of the damaged containers are drifting in the waters in the area of the vessel.

SEE ALSO: 'Perfect storm' for power outages brewing in B.C., hydro report says

According to the Canadian Coast Guard, 16 members on the ship were taken off it after a fire broke out on 10 of the vessel's containers. The members were then taken to Ogden Point Pier by the coast guard Saturday evening, with five other individuals remaining on the ship, which was not on fire and was anchored near Victoria.

The incident occurred during what is now considered a historic storm for B.C., which met the criteria of a weather bomb and set a new Pacific Northwest pressure record. Buoy 46005 recorded a pressure of 942.5 millibars (mb) on Sunday afternoon, surpassing the previous tally of 943 mb, recorded during post-tropical cyclone Harriet in 1977.

Ship container catches fire/Canadian Coast Guard (Canadian Coast Guard/Twitter)

The storm is also bringing powerful winds and excessive rainfall, with thousands of customers without power at one point on Sunday evening, according to BC Hydro. In addition to the electricity cut, there is an increased risk of localized flooding, mudslides and high swells.

According to Kevin MacKay, a meteorologist at The Weather Network, the ship was damaged by 160 km/h winds as it was in a holding pattern in the Pacific, then resulting in the containers catching fire.

"Then it sought refuge through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It is now holding off the coast of Victoria for the current storm," said MacKay.

The fire on the vessel has been stabilized, according to the coast guard. Depending on how Monday's weather plays out, hazardous materials firefighters will go on the ship to battle what's left of the fire and ensure it is out, the agency said in a tweet.

Earlier on Sunday, Danaos Shipping, which runs the ship, told Reuters no injuries were reported.

RECOVERY OF CONTAINERS MAY BE OBSTRUCTED BY TURBULENT WEATHER

According to the coast guard's navigational warnings website, an emergency zone set up at Constance Bank has been increased to within 3.7 kilometres (two nautical miles) of the ship.

The vessel began to experience trouble Friday after it lost 40 of its shipping containers in the turbulent waters, situated 70 kilometres west of the Juan de Fuca Strait, a body of water that separates Washington state and Vancouver Island, CBC News reported.

The Canadian Coast Guard is currently working with U.S. officials to monitor the 40 containers that fell overboard, as they pose a significant risk to mariners, it said. However, none of them appear to be floating towards shore currently, Reuters reported.

Boaters are being advised to stay away from the area, and the current storm is likely to hinder any efforts to retrieve the containers because of the high swells and intense winds.

Winds will strengthen over the inner South Coast through Monday morning and southeasterly gusts of 50-90+ km/h will persist through the afternoon. The Strait of Georgia will channel the strongest winds towards eastern Vancouver Island (Comox to Campbell River), impacting ferry services.

With files from CBC and Reuters.

Thumbnail courtesy of the Canadian Coast Guard/Twitter.

Follow Nathan Howes on Twitter.

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