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Trash trucks catch fire in Chattanooga Public Works yard

A grass fire at the Chattanooga Department of Public Works yard on Park Avenue Sunday evening spread to a fleet of nearby garbage trucks with trash inside, according to Battalion Chief Chris Willmore.

Ten trucks were parked side-by-side near a building on the property. Five of them were damaged in the fire, he said. 

Two women driving in the area first reported the fire.

"We figured it was probably someone burning tires or something," said Brittnay Sales, who first reported the fire with her friend Chiara Beck. "Then when we got here, between the [garbage] trucks there was big flames so we immediately called 911."

The two girls were several blocks away when they saw the smoke.

"We were driving past, and we saw a whole bunch of black smoke," Beck said. "And I said 'Brittnay, do you want to go see?' and she said 'yeah,' so I said 'okay, let's go.' And it was a big fire. There was nobody here, so we tried to find the street address and called 911."

That quick thinking from the women may have kept the fire from being worse, Willmore said. 

"It could have been much worse if left unchecked," he said. "[Catching it soon] saved a lot of city resources."

Willmore said firefighters worked to keep the contaminated water used to put the fire out from running into the sewer system.

There were no reported injuries. 

The fire was controlled less than 20 minutes after the first unites arrived on scene, according to a release from the fire department.

The extent of damage to the five trucks ranged, and two of them were able to be driven away from the scene. 

Damages are estimated at $90,000.  A new truck costs approximately $350,000, according to the release.

Earlier this year, the wall of a different public works building on the property collapsed during a strong storm. 


Updated July 2 at 10:53 p.m. with additional information.