Fire destroys Warwick garbage trucks

Officials in Warwick are trying to determine what started a fire that destroyed five garbage trucks in a city lot.

"We've had a garbage truck catch on fire before, but it was isolated when it was on an actual route. But never eight hours after the end of the shift," Mayor Scott Avedisian said Monday.

That was the case Saturday evening when a truck caught fire and the flames spread to four other garbage trucks.

Employees at the Warwick Department of Public Works are trying to salvage what they can.

"The question will be whether or not there was some malfunction in the truck or whether it was some outside force that caused the fire," Avedisian said.

On Monday, members of the Rhode Island Fire Marshal's Office and Warwick Police Department inspected the scene.

Warwick police will also review surveillance video to see if anything was caught happening in the city yard before the fire started. There may have been some trash in the trucks, but Avedisian said that's not unusual.

"When you're done with your route, if you're only at 10 percent we wouldn't send you to the landfill then because it would be a waste of resources. If you're more than 50 we'd have you go to the landfill," Avedisian said.

Saturday's fire was so intense that it actually caused tires to explode. The city of Warwick said it's lucky that only five trucks were damaged because more than 20 trucks were lined up side by side.

"Fortunately, no one was hurt. When you have 25 trucks in a row fortunate that it didn't spread any further and there was damage to the entire fleet," Avedisian said.

Each truck costs about $250,000 to $260,000. Insurance should cover the loss, but the city wants to solve the mystery of the fire as soon as possible.

The city says residents shouldn't see any impact on trash pickup. The city is using reserve vehicles until the damaged trucks are replaced.