, Salem, MA

August 15, 2013

Dual Dumpster fires deemed accidental

By Bethany Bray

---- — PEABODY — Firefighters responded to two Dumpster fires in the span of an hour yesterday afternoon.

Both fires — the first at 208 Bartholomew St. and the second at 24 Oak St. — were started by spontaneous combustion of materials that had been thrown away.

Fire officials say the fires are not related or suspicious — it’s just a coincidence that the two fires were so close together, said fire Capt. Dale Kimball. No injuries were reported at either blaze.

Firefighters were called to Bartholomew Street just before 3 p.m. and found a 30-foot-long Dumpster fully engulfed. The Dumpster, located at a site where a new housing development is being built, was filled with construction debris.

The Dumpster contained sawdust from floor sanders, which spontaneously combusted, Kimball said.

“(Sawdust) generates its own heat and combusts,” he said. “It was not intentional.”

Fire crews were at the scene for roughly half an hour and worked hard to protect a front-end loader and a propane truck that were parked near the Dumpster, Kimball said.

Roughly an hour later, around 4 p.m., a regular-sized Dumpster caught fire at Toni’s Own Cookies, 24 Oak St.

Employees had thrown away some cookie batter and other ingredients, including hot lemon oil, then tossed paper products and boxes on top, Kimball said. The hot oil heated the paper to its combustion point, and it ignited.

The receptacle was also swarming with bees that had been attracted to the sweet cookie materials.

“We were fighting the Dumpster fire and fighting bees, too,” Kimball said.

An ambulance was called to the scene as a precaution, because a couple of firefighters are allergic to bee stings, Kimball said. A city health inspector also responded after the fire.

Bethany Bray can be reached at and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.