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Hazardous materials burned aboard container ship anchored off southern B.C. | CBC News

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The Canadian Coast Guard said there was significant risk to mariners but not to people on shore as a fire burned in containers aboard a cargo ship about eight kilometres off the coast of Victoria starting Saturday.

Two of the burning containers on the ship’s deck held hazardous material identified as potassium amylxanthate, the agency said, which is listed as a “reactive flammable material” by the Canadian Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System.

On Sunday, Transport Canada banned drones and aircraft flying over the scene, at the request of the Coast Guard. 

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The federal agency said it received word Saturday morning about the fire in 10 damaged containers aboard the MV Zim Kingston, which was anchored in Constance Bank, B.C.

It noted the ship itself was not on fire, but said an emergency zone had been set up for one nautical mile around the Zim Kingston.

WATCH | Crew evacuated from ship after fire: 

Crew members evacuated from cargo ship off B.C. coast after fire

The Canadian Coast Guard said it received a report Saturday of a fire on two damaged containers aboard the MV Zim Kingston cargo carrier near Victoria. The ship had been bound for Vancouver. 2:38

The Joint Rescue and Coordination Centre in Victoria said 16 crew members were safely taken off the ship, while five others, including the captain, remained on board at their own behest.

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Canadian Coast Guard spokesperson Michelle Imbeau said an Incident Command Post led by the Coast Guard on behalf of the federal and B.C. governments, as well as First Nations representatives, was co-ordinating a multi-agency response to the incident.

She said the Command Post was also working with the U.S. Coast Guard to monitor 40 containers that fell overboard from the Zim Kingston in choppy waters on Friday and were floating about 12 nautical miles off the west coast of Vancouver Island, near Bamfield, B.C.

It said a Hazmat crew from Vancouver was mobilizing and the owner of the Zim Kingston had contracted the U.S.-based Resolve Marine Group for salvage operations, including firefighting and recovery of the containers.

Resolve Marine had mobilized two vessels that were expected to be on site Sunday.

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The Canadian Coast Guard, meanwhile, said it was working through the Emergency Management BC network to broadcast public safety information as required.

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