Aug 2, 2023 - News

City of Tampa: Stop giving us exploding garbage

Animated illustration of a dumpster on fire.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If Tampa Bay wasn't hot enough, spontaneously combusting garbage certainly doesn't help.

What's happening: Tampa's solid waste department has seen a recent trend in "hot loads" during the spring and summer, AKA spontaneous combustions and fires inside trash or recycling trucks.

  • Solid waste drivers are forced to quickly dump a load of trash to avoid the fire spreading throughout the truck, as seen in a video shared by the city that was recorded on June 30.

Why it matters: These are caused by overheating lithium-ion batteries, chemicals, cleaning solutions, propane tanks or electronics improperly disposed of in bins.

  • "Lithium-ion battery fires produce toxic gas, create an explosive environment, and can be extremely difficult for firefighters to extinguish," fire chief Barbara Tripp said in a release from the city.

By the numbers: So far this year, the Tampa Solid Waste Department has experienced three hot load fires. The department experienced two last year. 

  • Tampa Fire Rescue has responded to more than 1,200 trash/dumpster fires in the last year, according to a city press release that noted all the fires can be traced to improper disposal.

Be smart: Tampa residents can take household hazardous waste to multiple locations.


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