The U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest received a report of lost cargo from the Zim Kingston at around midnight Thursday night and dispatched helicopters to the scene the following morning. An initial sweep located eight of the containers.
By Friday evening, the Coast Guard had located 35 of the containers around the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The U.S. Navigation Center issued a warning Friday to any boats in the area to proceed with extreme caution, as some containers may not be visible.
"Two of the containers have been identified as carrying spontaneous combustibles," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Diolanda Caballeros. The materials in question include flammable metals and compounds that burn quickly and are hard to extinguish by water. "They are currently drifting north but we can’t predict which way they will go because of the heavy weather."
The cause of the incident is not yet known, but officials said the containers fell off the ship as it listed to one side.
A fire broke out the following morning amongst "damaged containers" Saturday morning, the Vancouver Sun reported.
The vessel was headed to Canada, and it reached Vancouver after the incident.
Rough weather has moved through Washington over the weekend, bringing rain and strong winds.
The strongest weather is expected Sunday with the possibility of wind, rain and possibly thunderstorms, CBS 8 reported.