West Lancashire Borough Council and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service are appealing to local residents not to put hot ashes in their refuse bin after a fire in a collection vehicle.
The warning has come after an incident when a collection crew on a round in Burscough in April noticed smoke was coming from the rear of their vehicle. A helpful passerby also flagged them down to let them know what was happening.
Luckily the crew were able to pull into a quiet location and while emptying the waste out of the lorry in consultation with the Fire Service they discovered that a fire had started amongst the waste contained in the vehicle from hot ash that someone had deposited in their general waste.
Firefighters used a hose reel jet to extinguish the fire and a thermal imaging camera was used to check there were no remaining pockets of fire.
The collection round was somewhat delayed by this incident and it was only through the quick action of the Street Scene crew that no-one was seriously injured or no serious damage caused to the collection vehicle.
The Council is asking residents to only put ashes in the general waste bin if they have completely cooled down or been dampened with water to the point that they cannot catch fire again. Refuse vehicles are ventilated so when they are being driven around oxygen can get through the refuse to fan any embers and cause them to ignite if they are still hot.
Councillor Kev Wilkie, portfolio holder for Street Scene, said: "The Street Scene staff were very lucky that they were not injured in this incident and that we didn't lose a collection vehicle. We would ask that residents consider the safety of our staff and only put hot ashes in general waste bins if they have been made safe to the point that they won't catch fire again."
Station Manager Martin Dillon of Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service says: “We support West Lancashire Borough Council’s campaign and we urge residents to safely stub out all cigarettes and discard of the ashes once they have cooled down. Due to the quick action of the Street Scene staff, there were no injuries or serious damage but the incident could have easily been much more severe on another day.”