Thousands have bin collection disrupted after lorry fire

Crews extinguish rubbish that set alight in March
-Credit: (Image: Fenland District Council)

A bin lorry fire that caused collections from 6,000 properties to be disrupted in Fenland is thought to have been started by a battery. Four tonnes of material went up in flames in March on May 11.

Workers had been collecting bins in Elliott Road when they noticed smoke coming from the back of the lorry. Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue crews helped to extinguish the fire that had spread to four tonnes of rubbish, and the waste transfer station at March had to close for the rest of the day.

The fire service believes the fire was caused by a lithium-ion battery that had been put in a bin. Many products contain these kinds of batteries, such as mobile phones, toothbrushes, e-scooters and vapes.

Read more: Loos set on fire 'deliberately' in Cambridge as firefighters rush to blaze

Read more: Family left feeling 'massively violated' as garden fence destroyed by fire

The crushing or damaging of these batteries in bin lorries can cause explosions, and fires that spread quickly.

Four tonnes of rubbish went up in flames
Four tonnes of rubbish went up in flames -Credit:Fenland District Council

Cllr Peter Murphy, Fenland District Council's portfolio holder for refuse and cleansing, parks and open spaces, said: "Our very simple plea to residents is not to put any battery, electrical item or vape into any household waste bin, or indeed any waste bin. We have seen how easily they can cause a fire and put the safety of our crews at risk.

"Please make sure you recycle your batteries responsibly and never put them in the bin. I'd like to thank the collection crew, firefighters, and staff at the waste transfer station for dealing with this incident so quickly. Thankfully, no one was hurt."

According to Material Focus, a not-for-profit organisation that supports the recycling and reusing of electricals, battery fires in bin lorries and at waste sites has reached an all-time high in the UK, increasing from 700 in 2022 to 1,200 in the last year.

Rob Olivier, head of community fire safety at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Crews did a great job to ensure the fire was tackled safely. Their fast actions meant the incident was dealt with quickly and effectively.

"Batteries can be a fire hazard, especially when they are compacted and damaged when mixed in with any household or recyclable waste. We would urge residents to make sure they dispose of batteries correctly at an appropriate recycling facility.

"To safely dispose of them, batteries should be taken to local recycling centres. Or, for household batteries, many shops have collection bins in-store."

Batteries should not be put in home waste or recycling bins. Fenland District Council information about what can be recycled in bins at home and at recycling centres can be found here.

More information on recycling batteries and electricals can be found by visiting Recycle Your Electrics. Last month, Cambridgeshire County Council opened vape recycling bins at its nine household recycling centres.

Do you want more of the latest Cambridgeshire news as it comes in? Sign up to our dedicated newsletter to make sure you never miss a big story from Cambridge or anywhere else in the county. You can also sign up to our dedicated Peterborough, Traffic and Crime newsletters for the latest updates on the topics you are most interested in.