Authorities were trying to determine on Tuesday whether a fire in a cargo ship’s hold is the result of a mechanical failure or foul play.
The 773-foot MV Osa is on fire about 40 nautical miles southwest of Hartley Bay, British Columbia, according to maritime authorities and the Coast Guard.
Crew members in the cargo hold have been safely evacuated to the high deck of the ship, which is headed for the Salish Sea port in Prince Rupert, said Ed Crooks, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Witnesses say the fire is in an area where fishing gear and paper and plastics are stored, though the National Transportation Safety Board, which is monitoring the response, says it has not been confirmed that paper, plastic or fishing gear is involved.
The blaze is “confidentially under control” by the Canadian Coast Guard and observers say the fire is barely visible from the shore.
The Canadian Transportation Safety Board said on Twitter that one casualty of the blaze has been recorded and that the firefighters are working to extinguish the blaze.
In April, a fire broke out in a ship’s cargo hold, also near Hartley Bay, killing a crew member.
Catches were drifting southbound in this area by Tuesday afternoon, Crooks said.
“If there’s anyone who’s trying to get in here for fish, there’s another boat across the inlet and if it wasn’t this fire, it could be next week,” Crooks said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.