Trash catches fire while in truck

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Firefighter Steve Ervin sprays foam on a burning pile of trash in an empty lot at 14th and Pile Streets around 11:30 a.m. Thursday while city workers look on.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

A Clovis city sanitation truck driver dumped a burning load of trash at an empty lot at 14th and Pile streets around 11:30 a.m. Thursday to prevent his truck from catching fire, Assistant Sanitation Supervisor Oscar Macias said.

The driver was on his collection route when he noticed his load was smoking, Macias said.

The driver attempted to smother the fire by closing his truck and compressing the load but was unsuccessful, Macias said.

The decision was made to dump the load in a vacant lot to prevent damage to the truck, which Macias said is valued around $150,000.

Approximately nine tons of trash were dumped, he said.

While firefighters and city workers labored to extinguish the fire and clean up the mess, the truck was able to return to its route.

Macias said it is not unusual for drivers to get “hot loads” during the cold months because residents often dump hot ashes into Dumpsters.

Around noon, firefighters were called to the area of 10th and Prince streets for a report of a second trash truck on fire, according to Clovis Fire Chief Ray Westerman.

Battalion Chief Tim Peterson said the second report was from a dumptruck, in which the trash from the first fire had been loaded. The garbage had been covered in dirt, but started smoking, he said. Firefighters put water on the trash and followed the truck to the landfill, where more foam and water were put on the trash.

The garbage was buried at the landfill, Peterson said.