Close call as fire rips through refuse lorry

THE driver of a refuse truck badly damaged by a blaze has told of the terrifying moment the vehicle erupted into flames.

Shaun Noble, who works with recycling and refuse company Biffa, was driving the truck down the A259 in Wick to the Ford recycling facility on Monday afternoon (February 23) when he heard a strange sound coming from behind him.

The damaged refuse lorry PHOTO: Eddie Mitchell

The damaged refuse lorry PHOTO: Eddie Mitchell

To his horror, when he looked in his rear-view mirror he saw smoke coming from the rear of the cab.

Mr Noble said: “It all happened so quickly. We were just gobsmacked.”

He was forced to pull the vehicle over to the side of the highway and evacuate it, alongside the two other crew mates who had been in the truck at the time.

“Within five minutes, the whole cab was on fire,” Mr Noble added.

Two fire crews from Littlehampton rushed to tackle the blaze, which sent thick black smoke billowing high into the sky.

They used high-pressure hoses and breathing apparatus while fighting the flames, which destroyed the lorry. The A259 was closed for several hours before the gutted truck was removed by Sussex Police.

The incident caused widespread disruption for motorists in Littlehampton, Wick and Lyminster.

A spokesman for Biffa Municipal praised the efforts of firefighters for bringing the blaze under control so quickly. He said: “We are all very thankful that no-one was injured in this alarming incident, and would like to thank the local fire brigade for their prompt action.

“Technical experts are now examining the vehicle to identify the cause of the fire, and until their report is available, we will not speculate on why it happened.”

The company’s spokesman said the damaged vehicle was on loan, adding that Biffa has an ‘outstanding’ safety record with its fleet of directly-owned vehicles.

A spokeswoman for Arun District Council, which is responsible for the area’s refuse services, said the replacement diesel lorry had been drafted in while the usual vehicle was being repaired.