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Fire destroys most of county’s trash truck fleet

SoVaNow.com / August 03, 2014
Nearly all of Halifax County’s fleet of trash collection trucks — four vehicles in all — was destroyed early Saturday morning in a fire that struck at the shuttered county landfill off Bethel Road (State Route 360) near Scottsburg.

All four trucks were parked side-by-side at the gated site of the former landfill. Halifax County Public Works Director Ricky Nelson said a cause of the blaze has yet to be established, but foul play is not suspected.

Nelson said he was notified of the fire at 1:20 a.m. Saturday morning.

Destroyed in the blaze were two 2001 Volvo trucks, one 2005 Autocar truck and a new 2014 Mack truck. The Mack truck had only been in service for a short time after the county purchased it earlier this year at a price of $202,000.

Chris Hudson, a fire investigator with the Halifax County Sheriff’s Department, is handling the investigation.

Nelson said the only vehicle remaining in the fleet is the one used to collect recycled materials. It will be redeployed for the purpose of emptying green boxes at the county’s convenience centers.

“We will be using that to collect trash, which I know will be piling up steadily,” Nelson said. As a result, he added, recycling at the convenience centers will have to be put on hold temporarily.

Nelson noted that the county will run its one remaining truck on a double extended schedule, completing two runs daily rather than just one. But he expressed concern that it will still be a struggle to service all the county’s 15 convenience centers and green box locations.

Nelson said he did not want to treat trash collection as more important than recycling, but felt he had no choice but to collect the trash first.

He said the county paid a sum total of $618,000 for the four trucks that were destroyed by the fire, and estimated the replacement cost for the four vehicles is around $850,000.

County Adminstrator Jim Halasz said the county has innsurance on the trucks with the Virginia Muncipal League and it covers replacement vehicle costs, rather than the real value of the trucks.

“Ricky (Nelson) and I have already begun looking around for trucks we can purchase and hopefully we can find at least one in perhaps as soon as a week. I’ll be talking to the county supervisors about this at tonight’s meeting [Monday],” Halasz said.

The loss also affects the Town of South Boston’s trash and recycling efforts — as county trucks are used to move garbarge and recycled materials from the green boxes at the old town landfill to the transfer station on Plywood Road. Recycling in South Boston will be suspended temporarily.

Halasz said he was unsure of whether the town used the same recycling vendor as the county does, but he stressed that the county would be carrying out no recycling efforts until the trucks can be replaced.
He explained that if the county waited to have the trucks fitted to their exact needs, that it could take up to four to six months. But he added, “At this point, we are going to take what we can get quickly.”

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