Firefighters respond to trash truck blaze

Scott H. Shook

Quick thinking by a Waste Management truck driver averted a potentially serious problem Monday afternoon on the south end of the island.

Driver Jose Caceres reacted quickly when he saw flames coming from the back of his truck and pulled his truck onto Muspa Way, where he was able to quickly dump the flaming load.

“I noticed flames coming from the inside of the body of my truck,” Caceres said. “I had to find a safe place to dump my load.”

Thinking fast, he remembered the alleyway that is part of his normal route.

“I found it pretty quick,” he said. “I was nervous. It was real scary. I’ve been doing this route for 11 years, so I knew this alley was here.”

Caceres responded perfectly, according to Chris Byrne of the Marco Island Fire-Rescue Department, who was on the scene.

“He did a great job. He did exactly was he was supposed to do, he found a nice area, he kept it off the ground, so nothing’s going into the ground. It’s on the pavement but it’s in a safe area, away from houses. We couldn’t ask for any better out of them.” Byrne said.

Byrne said it’s not unusual for the department to respond to such calls.

“We got a call for, initially, a car fire in the 700 block of South Collier Blvd,” Byrne said. “Then we got an incident update that it was a garbage truck that dumped its load. This is nothing new. It doesn’t happen that often, but we’re used to them. We’ve had several of them."

The experience was new for Caceres, but he had co-workers who had experienced the problem. He was impressed with the response from the fire department.

“They got here quick,” Caceres said, “Within five minutes they were here.”

Byrne said it was unlikely that the cause of the fire would be determined.