A dumpster full of potentially noxious liquids that the Town of Hempstead collected as part of its S.T.O.P. (Stop Throwing Out Pollutants) program caught fire on Saturday, March 23, while it was being transported by truck south on Merrick Avenue in Merrick.
The truck’s driver noticed smoke emanating from the dumpster as he neared the intersection of Merrick Avenue and Sunrise Highway and released the dumpster onto the ground before the fire could spread to the truck or its gas tank, according to John Scalesi, a former captain of the Bellmore Fire Department who responded to the fire.
The Merrick Fire Department received the call about the fire at 4:24 p.m. on March 23, and about 25 firefighters from the department’s Merrick Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 and Empire Hose Company No. 3 rushed to Merrick Avenue and Sunrise Highway in five vehicles, including two fire engines, one ladder truck and a heavy rescue unit.
Nassau County’s Emergency Hazardous Materials Response Team also responded, according to Chris Quigly, a dispatcher for the North Bellmore Fire District, which dispatches for Merrick.
Firefighters extinguished the fire, and no one was injured. Quigly said that some liquids leaked from inside the dumpster, but Nassau County’s HazMat Team contained the spill and cleaned it up.
“They dammed and diked the storm drains to make sure nothing went in,” Quigly said.
Quigly blamed the cause of the fire on different pollutants mixing together inside the dumpster. He said that the trucker who was transporting the dumpster remained at the scene, and the fire was deemed “not suspicious.”