ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WCTI) - A fire in a garbage truck last Thursday was caused by someone throwing out hazardous material, so Jacksonville officials are reminding residents to be careful what they toss in the trash.
Jacksonville Fire Chief Edward Tallman says the fire occurred after a resident threw away a lithium battery into their trashcan.
He says the battery caused the trash in the truck to catch fire, but workers were able to quickly dump the trash to prevent the entire truck from going up in flames.
Tallman says lithium and rechargeable batteries are very flammable - and often disposed of improperly.
“If they were to be punctured, or you know the positive and negative contacts would come in contact with each other," he explains. 'They could ignite, and then once it starts rolling, they heat up very fast.”
Instead of throwing the batteries in the trash, Tallman suggests another method that helps keep sanitation personnel safe.
“We reached out to the landfill, and they’ll take any of the lithium batteries, right there at the waste house; they’ll take them free of charge," he says. "They ask if it’s a big bulk, especially the disposable ones, that you tape them and then put them in a five-gallon bucket.”
Luckily, Tallman says, no one was injured in Thursday's fire.