For some of the Northwest suburbs' firefighters, work on Saturday was literally hot garbage.
The Elk Grove Village Fire Department had to close every lane of Higgins Road near Landmeier Road and Nicholas Boulevard after materials inside a waste-hauling truck caught fire. No one was hurt, but as Lt. John Fordon explained, it caused a two-hour traffic nightmare for drivers hoping to hit nearby restaurants for dinner.
"Unfortunately, it happened in the middle of Higgins Road," Fordon said. "Something inside the truck didn't agree with each other."
He said a truck from waste-removal firm Groot Industries Inc. was headed southeast on Higgins at about 4 p.m., hauling a load of recyclables to the company's facility -- about a mile away at 2500 Landmeier Road -- when something caused the refuse to combust. Fordon said the cause was impossible to determine -- it might have been something that a customer disposed improperly, but it also could have been the pressure of compacted trash.
"When things get compressed, they heat up and there's no rhyme or reason for why it happened," he said. "There's a million reasons this could have happened."
Rather than coming in hot, the driver steered into Higgins's center turn lane and dumped the load onto the street. Fordon said the truck was heavily damaged. When fire crews arrived, they had to shut down the busy thoroughfare until about 6 p.m.
But … what does one do with a load of refuse that refuses to go gently into that good recycler, and instead burns and raves?
Fordon said firefighters tore the pile apart, making sure to extinguish all the burning pieces. Once the flames were out, a front-end loader supplied by nearby Suburban Towing & Recovery lifted and shoved all the trash into a new Groot truck, which completed the trip.