After two separate bin lorries caught fire within an hour of each other, the fire service has warned the public about the dangers of disposing of lithium batteries in household waste bins.
Crews responded to two fires in Cambridge and Peterborough, which were both caused by lithium-ion batteries being thrown out with household refuse.
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service is urging residents to make sure they dispose of old batteries correctly, either at local shops with a battery bank or at their local recycling centre.
Station Commander Gareth Boyd, Community Risk Manager for the Fire Service, has urged people to not dispose of any batteries in household waste or recycling bins stating they “put people at risk”.
A crew from Cambridge was called just after 7 am on Wednesday (23 August) to a fire involving refuse from a lorry. Less than an hour later crews from Dogsthorpe and Stanground were called to a lorry fire in Bretton, Peterborough.
We have seen an increase in fires involving batteries in refuse lorries over recent months.
Across the country 48% of waste fires are caused by lithium-ion batteries, which totals more than 200 each year, the fire service said.
Research conducted by Material Focus amongst local authorities across the UK identified that over 700 fires in waste trucks and sites were caused by batteries that haven’t been removed from electricals.
Station Commander Gareth Boyd, Community Risk Manager for the Service, commented: “We have seen an increase in fires involving batteries in refuse lorries over recent months. Due to the heat generated and the crushing of the batteries during the process, the lithium in the batteries will set fire to the waste in the lorry.
“Our crews work with the refuse collectors to empty the vehicle to prevent the fire from spreading, but this involves significant disruption to the road network. There are many places to safely dispose of batteries. Many local shops have a battery bank and recycling centres also take them.”