Boro garbage truck destroyed by fire

By elaine van develde
Staff Writer

Boro garbage truck
destroyed by fire
By elaine van develde
Staff Writer

TINTON FALLS — A garbage truck fire may have been squelched weeks ago, but rumors surrounding the blaze have continued to spread. Officials are trying to set the record straight.

Officials said that since the blaze on Nov. 24, a story has been circulating that a fire truck caught on fire at a fire, and variations of that theme.

It was actually a garbage truck that spontaneously combusted while sitting in the Public Works parking lot on Tinton Avenue, which can be seen from the Garden State Parkway, according to officials.

It happened Nov. 24, the Sunday evening following Thanksgiving. According to Public Works Senior Foreman Gary Gable, a New Jersey State Trooper was patrolling the parkway at about 10:30 p.m. when he spotted a fire coming from the Public Works lot.

"The trooper called the police and they came to check it out," said Borough Administrator Anthony Muscillo. "By the time the police got there, the truck, which is the oldest one in the (Public Works) department, was completely engulfed in flames."

That truck, a 1993 model, was completely destroyed. New, said Gable, the truck was worth $143,000. The borough has garbage trucks with hydraulic arms that pick the cans right off the curbs without manual labor.

A truck that was parked next to the truck that caught on fire also was damaged. "It’s more ugly right now than expensive (to fix)," said Gable. "There’s been no damage assessment from insurance yet, but the rear tires were melted, and paint and the hydraulics were damaged, from what I know."

With nothing left to salvage from the truck that burst into flames, officials are still at a loss concerning why it happened.

While Muscillo speculated that there was a "short circuit in the plug that warms the engine which ultimately caused the fire," Gable said fire officials have not yet told him what the cause was.

In fact, Gable said, he was told that "the (engine) block heater wasn’t plugged in. I heard the firefighters found the chord lying on the ground at the scene."

The truck, Gable added, had been parked in the spot for about four to five days before the fire occurred.

"That’s why it (the fire) dazzles me completely," Gable said. "If there was a problem when the truck was parked after being used, then common sense tells you that something would have happened that night. But the truck was sitting there, cold, for a few days. It hadn’t been used. To my knowledge, too, there was nothing around it to indicate any cause other than that it just spontaneously caught on fire."

Fire official Cary Costa was not available for comment as of press time.