A fire on Monday involving smoldering garbage erupting into flames in a Long Beach dumpster resulted in minor damages to a North Long Beach Post Office, according to Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD) officials.
LBFD spokesman Jake Heflin said firefighters were dispatched to the Post Office at 3:49PM, located at 1100 East Market Street, regarding a fire that occurred after a dump truck unloaded waste into a dumpster. They arrived at the scene at 3:55PM, and the fire was extinguished at 3:58PM, according to Heflin.
“It’s not common, but it does happen,” said Heflin of the fire, which he dubbed an “exposure fire.”
Heflin said exposure fires occur when an item is thrown away that is still burning, like a cigarette butt, and gets placed with other refuse in the back of a truck. The item emits smoke, but does not erupt until it is exposed to oxygen, which creates a full-fledged fire, Heflin said.
“A fire needs three things to burn,” said Heflin. “Heat, fuel and oxygen. As soon as you get oxygen, you get fire.”
Firefighters usually are called to extinguish such potential fires before a dump truck unloads its smoking waste, said Heflin. However, the garbage was unloaded before firefighters had the chance to eliminate the source of the smoke, leading to its development as a fire and the minor damage it caused the Post Office.