Second Fire Breaks Out Aboard Boxship Zim Kingston

zim kingston
Zim Kingston at anchor after the first fire, October 2021 (Transport Canada)

Published Dec 22, 2021 5:35 PM by The Maritime Executive

Two months after a container fire broke out aboard the boxship Zim Kingston in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, a second blaze started during salvage efforts at a pier in nearby Port of Nanaimo. 

According to local CHEK News, a fire started at about 1300 hours on Tuesday while the vessel was alongside at the port's Duke Point breakbulk terminal. The Zim Kingston is in port for salvage and cargo offloading, and the Nanaimo Port Authority told Nanaimo News Bulletin that the blaze was started in insulation in a damaged container. Photos from the scene showed smoke emanating from a container stack near the stern, far away from the location of the first fire. 

Port authority president Ian Marr told the Bulletin that it is believed that sparks from hot work got into the damaged container, setting off the fire. It took about 90 minutes for the salvors and first responders to put out the blaze, and it did not spread. An investigation into the cause is under way. 

According to the port, the process of unloading damaged cargo from the boxship is very carefully controlled. A safety assessment is conducted for each lift, and salvors are only making about 8-10 lifts per day. Once the work is finished, Zim Kingston will transit to another port to finish unloading the undamaged portion of her cargo. 

Zim Kingston lost 109 containers over the side in a storm off the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca on October 22. After reporting the cargo loss, she transited into the strait to a safe anchorage.

Once she had reached calm water and dropped anchor, a stack of damaged containers on her foredeck caught fire and began to burn vigorously. Several tugs responded and provided boundary cooling, preventing the fire from spreading, and the crew abandoned ship. The last hot-spots took days to extinguish but the vessel and the majority of the cargo were saved. 

A small number of lost containers from Zim Kingston washed up on the northwestern shore of Vancouver Island, along with a quantity of spilled cargo. A beach cleanup effort alleviated the worst of the litter, and the stray containers were removed.