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Salvage crew unable to board vessel anchored off Victoria due to stormy weather

Health of Greater Victoria residents not impacted by fire, Coast Guard says.

A salvage crew hired by the operator of a bulk carrier anchored off Victoria where containers were burning over the weekend has been unable to board the vessel due to high winds.

According to the Canadian Coast Guard, the salvage crew from Alaska is currently on scene but unable to get aboard the Zim Kingston bulk carrier, anchored at Constance Bank. Resolve has been hired to help with firefighting and to salvage the remaining onboard containers.

Resolve is also expected to ensure the vessel is safe for the crew to return. Sixteen of the vessel’s 21 crew members were taken off the ship Saturday.

The Canadian Coast Guard reported Monday morning that the ship remained stable overnight, though the containers onboard continue to smoulder.

Firefighting crews have continued to spray water on the hull and on the containers near the fire.

The ship was carrying 52,080 kilograms of potassium amyl xanthate — which is used in the mining sector — in two of the shipping containers that were burning.

The Coast Guard notes there is currently no impact on the health of Greater Victoria residents, but incident command continues to monitor the situation.

It is not clear how many shipping containers burned in the blaze, which started Saturday morning. They burned down to their shells and then collapsed into themselves.

The fire started when the vessel was anchored off Victoria, after it lost 40 shipping containers off the west coast of Vancouver Island Friday morning.

The containers, lost overboard when the ship listed in high seas on Friday in international waters, are being tracked and monitored. Some of the lost containers contain hazardous materials.

Some of the containers have drifted into Canadian waters.

aduffy@timescolonist.com