After a morning collection on 4 January, refuse workers noticed smoke pouring from the back of their truck and quickly returned to the Portsmouth depot to empty the burning, five-tonne pile out onto the yard.

Portsmouth City Council said the ‘quick thinking’ of the waste crew from Biffa saved the £230,000 lorry – and the crew themselves – from potential harm.

The burning battery, which had ignited when crushed by the vehicle’s compaction equipment, was removed and extinguished by firefighters from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service.

Portsmouth’s cabinet member for environmental services, Dave Ashmore, said: ‘Thankfully no-one was hurt on this occasion thanks to the speedy actions of our crew.

‘But incorrect disposal of batteries and electrical items puts the lives of our crews at risk and creates a serious risk of fire.’

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