Incident Type: 
Thursday, June 29, 2023 - 5:33am
Thursday, June 29, 2023 - 5:36am
U.S. Highway 12 Westbound & Agriculture Drive
Madison, WI

Multiple MFD crews and departments were sent to a fire along the westbound Beltline highway early Thursday morning. The fire involved a garbage truck that succumbed to a presumed mechanical issue near the area of Agriculture Drive.

As Engine Co 14 approached the scene, they could see the garbage truck was completely engulfed in flames, and they could feel the heat from the fire as they approached via the eastbound traffic lanes. The driver of the vehicle was a safe distance away standing under the overpass.

Engine 14 pulled the their preconnect line—a fire hose they deploy from the front bumper of their fire engine—and began to extinguish the fire. The fire required more water than what their 500-gallon tank could supply, so Ladder Co. 6 (which also carries 500 gallons of water) was dispatched. Eventually McFarland Fire and Cottage Grove Fire were also called to bring tenders for more water.

The driver reported to firefighters he was having issues with the air conditioning in the truck for the last two weeks, and the truck just left the shop that morning. He said he was driving down the road when he smelled something coming from the exhaust in the cab, so he shut the AC off. As he was driving down the Beltline, he started to feel something warm, and other drivers were frantically trying to get him to pull over. As he pulled over, he realized that the whole truck was on fire. He quickly got out of the cab and heard an explosion as he walked away.

The driver was not injured, and the truck was not carrying garbage at the time of the fire. Firefighters noted the truck was powered by natural gas, which made it harder to extinguish. Once crews were able to get a handle on the fire, Engine 14 was able to shut off a valve to the natural gas.

It’s estimated that Engine Co. 14 used 2500 gallons of water to put the fire out, in addition to what Ladder 6 used.

Posted 06/29/2023 - 10:02am

Cynthia Schuster (Public Information Officer)