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Warning over batteries in bins after fire breaks out on rubbish lorry

Residents are being reminded to recycle their batteries after a fire broke out on a rubbish collection vehicle.

Smoke was seen coming from the back of the lorry while the crew were collecting rubbish in Longrock, near Penzance, on Friday, April 19.

The team acted quickly and called the fire service, who extinguished the fire.

The fire is believed to have been caused by a bank of lithium batteries that had been put in the rubbish. Fortunately, no one was hurt. 

When put into general household waste, batteries can get crushed or punctured. This releases flammable electrolytes into the air which can trigger explosions and result in rapidly spreading fires.

A fire on a bin lorry
The fire is believed to have been caused by a bank of lithium batteries

Residents are urged to recycle their batteries instead of putting them in the bin. Most supermarkets have a battery recycling point or you can put them in the battery box at your local household waste and recycling centre.

Des O’Connell,  Group Manager for Protection, Policy and Enforcement at Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, said battery fires have become more common in recent years. 

He said: “Lithium-ion batteries are in a lot of everyday items, like mobile phones, toothbrushes, toys, laptops, e-bikes and e-scooters and their use has increased as e-cigarettes and vapes have become more popular.

“Last year the UK saw more than 700 reported fires caused by lithium-ion batteries in waste lorries and at recycling centres. Our Service has also seen an increase in the number of incidents related to lithium-ion batteries over the past five years.”

Councillor Carol Mould, Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods at Cornwall Council, said: “I’d like to thank the collection crew and firefighters who dealt with this incident so quickly. Thankfully the fire did not spread and no one was hurt.

“We often see batteries being put with general rubbish and this can be really dangerous for our waste collection crews.  

“Please make sure you recycle your batteries responsibly and never put them in the bin.”

A video of the fire can be downloaded from Cornwall Council's Vimeo channel.

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