Fire in Morro Bay garbage truck forces driver to dump flaming trash in the street

A fire erupted in a garbage truck in Morro Bay on Tuesday afternoon, possibly from a spent propane canister disposed of in waste picked up by the truck, according to the Morro Bay Fire Department.

And while the blaze made for a spectacular display of burning refuse at the intersection of Tahiti Street and Tide Avenue, no one was injured and the department was able to contain the fire without any property damage, said Scott Subler, a Fire Department engineer.

“It’s undetermined exactly what the cause is,” Subler said. “There was a spent propane canister within the burned refuse. That’s a good reminder for people not to throw away things that might ignite.”

The incident was reported before 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon and the department took a couple of hours to extinguish the fire and pick up debris from the street.

Twitter images shortly after the incident showed a large pile of trash dumped in the middle of the residential street with smoldering smoke wafting in the air.

The street was temporarily closed to traffic until the scene was cleared.

“The garbage truck driver did the right thing,” Subler said. “He was picking up residential garbage. (Garbage truck drivers are) trained to dump the refuse on the ground in the case of a fire, and he did just that. He did the right thing.”

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Nick Wilson covers the city of San Luis Obispo and has been a reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo since 2004. He also writes regularly about K-12 education, Cal Poly, Morro Bay and Los Osos. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and is originally from Ojai.