‘Hot load’ likely behind dump truck fire

December 21, 2018

Talk about a hot mess.

A dump truck hauling commercial waste for the city caught fire during a landfill run earlier this week, creating a spectacle for drivers and social media gawkers.

The truck, which was headed toward the Caja del Rio landfill Monday, was damaged in the flames.

The driver was not.

Shirlene Sitton, environmental services director for the city, said the culprit was likely a “hot load.”

Yes, that’s a technical term.

In the winter, Sitton said hot loads usually are caused by people putting hot ashes in their trash, and those ashes catch other flammable material on fire. Other causes could be things like flammable, chemical-soaked rags mixing together in the dump truck.

In hot conditions, Sitton said, there are times when organic trash just combusts.

Though Santa Fe hadn’t experienced a dump truck fire in some time, city spokesman Matt Ross said they’re common enough around the country that drivers are trained on how to escape a flaming truck.

Multiple fire crews responded to the roadside scene Monday. Sitton said that after the fire was out — and the trash soaked — it was hauled out of the charred truck by industrial construction equipment and moved to another vehicle for transport.

Sitton cautioned fireplace users in Santa Fe to make certain their ashes are out and cold before throwing them away.

Also, she said, household chemicals should go to directly to the Buckman Road Recycling and Transfer Station for disposal.

Update hourly