A garbage truck dumped its load when it caught on fire near Summit Lake on the morning of Oct. 23. The driver of the truck had been picking up garbage from Castlegar and was en route to Nakusp. While he was compacting the load, he heard a large bang and shortly after saw smoke billowing out of the back of the truck. Compacting the garbage further to try to deprive any fire of oxygen, he stopped to check what was happening.
Coming to a halt in a pullout, the driver emptied the smouldering garbage onto the roadside and sprayed it with a fire extinguisher in order to save the truck from burning. From a nearby landline, he then called the Nakusp RCMP who arrived on scene, as did a Nakusp contractor equipped with a water tanker truck, along with personnel from the Ministries of Highways and Forests.
The responders created a sand berm to prevent contamination of the lake, and the Ministry of the Environment was notified by RCMP. After the fire was out, both the sand and the garbage were loaded into a second truck. Luckily, the first truck was undamaged by the blaze.
Although out of the Nakusp Volunteer Fire Department service boundary, Fire Chief Terry Warren went to the site as fire commissioner and as a citizen concerned about the health of the lake.
“He must have gotten a hot load somewhere along the way,” said Warren, who has never seen a garbage truck with a load on fire, although he has seen it with chip trucks.
Burning garbage is not common, Communications Manager Robin Freedman told the Arrow Lakes News. This has been the second fire in ten years for Waste Management of Canada, according to her. Either people may have put materials in that can combust, or fire ash, which can set a load on fire.
In this case, the driver followed procedure quickly and conscientiously, said the company rep, and the fire was extinguished quickly and safely.