Yuma, Arizona - Following a couple of “hot loads” discovered by City solid waste drivers and one melted trash can, the City of Yuma reminds residents to refrain from placing hot coals and smoldering fireworks in city garbage containers.

The City dealt with two separate incidents concerning this issue in the last day. This morning in the 800 block of S. 2nd Avenue, a City solid waste driver detected material that flared when the residential container’s lid was opened and exposed to oxygen. He then ejected his load in a nearby vacant lot. The driver was then able to put the fire out with his onboard extinguisher. No one was injured, and an inspection revealed no noticeable damage to the city’s garbage truck.

The truck was back in service with approximately an hour’s delay to the morning’s collection route. The Yuma Fire Department was not called to respond in this instance.

The source of the burning material was traced to home fireworks that had been disposed too early.

“This is the second fire we have had in the back of a trash truck in the last couple of weeks,” said City Administrator Greg Wilkinson. “At $230,000 per truck, this kind of damage could get expensive really quickly. We ask residents not to put hot fireworks, coals or other recently combusted material into the trash cans.”

Tuesday evening the Yuma Police Department responded to Kennedy Park after several unknown male teen subjects played with firework sparklers then deposited them into a 300-gallon park trash can. The trash can caught fire and completely melted.

The Yuma Fire Department notes that sparklers, often thought of as a “safe” form of fireworks, burn at 1,200 degrees.

“We see this happen in both commercial dumpsters (often at apartment complexes) and residential containers,” noted Mike Erfert, Public Information Officer with YFD. “If we are lucky it is just the container damaged, but the containers are often stored alongside the residence. Once ignited, it can spread to the home. This is not just a property damage matter; often it takes a while for hot coals or expended fireworks to go to flame and people might be asleep with a fire spreading outside their home.”

Fireworks and coal ash should be free of glowing embers and cool to the touch before placing in a trash receptacle. The best practice is to wait at least 24 hours before dumping ash.

City solid waste vehicles are specialized pieces of equipment that are expensive and not easy to replace.

As this morning’s incident demonstrated, hot loads require extra work. YFD often has to be called to the scene to put the fire out, and then having to scoop the remaining load back up can be time-consuming and labor intensive. Pickups can be delayed.

“I have seen an entire trash truck go up when it wasn’t caught early,” Wilkinson said.