North Coast Fire on container ship causes turmoil

North Coast | Fire on container ship causes turmoil

A fire that broke out on board a container ship off the coast of Les Bergeronnes, near Tadoussac, has caused turmoil on the north coast since Sunday evening. After the crew called for help, numerous boats and a team of American marine firefighters rushed to the scene to bring the flames under control and control the monster's drift.

Published at 8:10 p.m.


According to the Canadian Coast Guard, the crew of the MSC Sao Paulo V called for help around 11 p.m. on Sunday because a fire had broken out in the engine room. The almost 300 meter long ship, which sails under the Liberian flag, left Montreal on the same day and was on its way to Portugal.

Several boats quickly came to the rescue, including two pilot boats from the Laurentian Pilotage Authority and the icebreaker Amundsen.

The fire burned throughout the night, but no signs of pollution, loss of cargo or injuries to those on board were detected, according to the Coast Guard.

The ship's drift, increasingly difficult to control in this context, began to become worrying when it was 1.5 nautical miles from shore. But over the course of Monday, the flames were extinguished and the ship's movement stopped.

“On March 4, 2024, at approximately 11 a.m. Eastern Time, the vessel managed to anchor very close to the entrance to Saguenay Fjord,” confirms the Coast Guard, emphasizing that the crew was not ultimately evacuated.

Rest without going ashore

A Radio-Canada journalist based on the north coast claimed that the ship's commander refused to allow his crew to be evacuated despite the situation, but federal authorities would not confirm this information to La Presse. “Your question should be referred to MSC,” a Coast Guard spokeswoman said.

The shipowner MSC, the largest container shipping company in the world, also known as the Mediterranean Shipping Company, had not yet commented on the situation at the time of publication of these lines. Another of the company's ships, the MSC Don Giovanni, approached the stricken ship and the sailors were able to rest there without ever going ashore.

The tug Ocean Taiga, one of the most powerful in the country and based in the Quebec region, also came there to help. The tug, built by experts from L'Isle-aux-Coudres, is also equipped to fight fires at sea.

The shipowner then obtained further relief from the USA at his own expense. “This morning, March 5, a special team of American firefighters, called as reinforcements by the MSC company, boarded the ship to assess the situation,” the Coast Guard said.

When asked by La Presse, Marc-Yves Bertin, the first director of the Laurentides Pilotage Authority, did not want to comment on the work of the pilots involved in the operation, under the pretext that the situation remained “dynamic”.