From left: Leighton Cousins, Sean Clayton and Ian O'Driscoll

A waste and recycling HGV driver has been commended for his quick thinking after he put out a fire in his vehicle caused by a battery thrown into general waste.

West Northampton Council said its crew had averted an expensive and messy clean-up last week that could have cost the tax-payer tens of thousands of pounds had the fire not been spotted.

The first sign of danger was spotted by loader Leighton Cousins who saw flames as he emptied a black wheelie bin in Middleton Cheney and raised the alarm.

Driver Ian O’Driscoll immediately turned off the lorry and grabbed an extinguisher on his way to the rear of the vehicle.

After discharging the extinguisher both could see the smouldering battery and removed it.

Phil Larratt, the council’s cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “It might not seem like much, but if that fire had taken hold, they might have been forced to eject their load or risk losing a very expensive bit of equipment, not to mention the risk of injury or worse.

“Then there’s the call out to the fire service, a hazardous clean-up, and a lorry out of action which has a knock-on effect on workloads and overtime costs.”

The battery is thought to have come from a cordless vacuum cleaner.