East Riding of Yorkshire Council issued a warning to its residents over the disposal of batteries after a power bank portable charger started a fire in the back of a bin lorry in Bridlington on 18 October.
The council explained that only quick thinking by the bin collection crew averted disaster.
As black smoke billowed from the truck the crew flagged down a nearby wheelie bin washing van and asked the owner, Alan Yates, to dampen down the waste with his pressure washer.
Crew member Paul Blewitt said: “The fire could have been a lot worse. If it hadn’t been for Alan being there at the right time with his pressure washer the wagon might have gone up in flames.”
With the contents of the lorry still smouldering the crew drove to a waste transfer station at the East Yorkshire village of Carnaby, where they dumped the waste into a puddle of water and used a hose to extinguish the fire completely.
Paul Tripp, head of streetscene services at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “Our crew acted extremely quickly to prevent a much bigger fire and the potential loss of one of our bin lorries.”
Mr Blewitt, driver Brian Freeman and crew member Emily Medforth were completing their regular round when the emergency arose.
The power bank had been placed in a green household bin and then emptied into the waste lorry.
Mr Blewitt added: “We’d just emptied two green wheelie bins into the back of the wagon when we saw smoke coming out of one of the bins.
“Whatever it was had set fire to the waste inside the wagon and black smoke started pouring out the back, so we knew we had to act quickly.”
Following the incident, the council’s waste and recycling team has appealed to residents never to place batteries in their household bins in a bid to prevent further incidents.
Cllr Tripp said: “As we’re coming up to the time of year when lots of batteries will get used for new presents and gadgets, we are encouraging residents not to bin them, but instead to recycle them at shops or household waste recycling sites.”
A similar appeal was issued in 2017 when batteries caused several fires after coming into contact with vehicles and machinery at recycling facilities across the county.
The council reminded residents that all 10 household waste recycling sites in the East Riding have dedicated battery bins and take all batteries of any size.
East Riding council runs its own waste management services and the unitary authority achieved the highest recycling, composting and reuse rate in England in 2017/18, a feat repeated from the year before.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published figures showing the council had achieved a rate of 64.5 per cent, which, though down on the previous year’s figure of 65.4 per cent, remains the best in the country.