Cause of huge bin lorry fire at Dorset Council depot revealed

A fire that ravaged a bin lorry depot and was tackled by fire crews from across Dorset, including Swanage, was most likely started by an electrical fault, although a lightning strike hasn’t been discounted, Dorset Council has revealed.

The fire, which has been described as a “freak occurrence”, started on Sunday 15th November 2020 at the Crookhill depot in Weymouth. 21 vehicles were either destroyed or severely damaged in the blaze, including a vehicle from the Wareham depot that was being serviced.


Following an investigation by Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, a report has concluded that the fire most likely started when rainwater caused a short-circuit in one of the lorry’s bonnets during a spell of heavy rain and wind.

However, the report does not rule out the possibility of a lightning strike as the cause. Several such strikes were reported in the area during the day.

Fire damage of bin lorrie
Dorset Council

No evidence of arson

Once the first lorry was ablaze, an easterly wind drove the fire across to the other lorries and towards the building.

The report found no evidence of arson. There was no sign of a break-in at the site, and CCTV recordings showed no suspicious activity.

While waste service workers had been at the site that day, the vehicle where the fire started had not been moved since the Friday of that week.

Councillor Jill Haynes, Portfolio Holder for Customer and Community Services, said:

“I would like to thank DWFRS’s Fire Investigation Officer for their report. We will carefully review and discuss its content to see if there are actions that we can take to reduce the possibility of another freak occurrence like this happening again in the future. In the meantime, we will continue to provide these vital services while working toward getting permanent resources to replace what was lost in the fire.”

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service Fire Investigation Officer, Sean Blizzard said:

“I can confirm that this was an accidental fire, caused by a weather-related incident. It started in one of the vehicles before spreading to 21 other vehicles on site. The great work of our crews prevented the fire spreading to the building, allowing Dorset Council to fully reinstate their services within 72 hours.”

Fire damage of bin lorries
Dorset Council

Setback for waste services

While waste collection has resumed, the services have suffered a lack of resources as a result of this fire.

The full cost of the damage from the fire is still unknown but Dorset Council has said that the incident is covered by insurance. The council is now working on a long-term solution to replace the vehicles.

Fire damage of bin lorries
Dorset Council
Bin lorries on fire
DW Fire and Rescue

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