With summer still going strong and the Labor Day weekend just around the corner, garbage collectors have a little favor to ask: Don't accidentally set their trucks on fire!

The problem, they say, is people who dump embers from their barbecues or portable fire pits into the trash before they've had a chance to cool off. The garbage guys dump your cans into their trucks, the embers ignite other trash and all of a sudden drivers are seeing flames in their rear view mirrors.

Richland Solid Waste officials say they've had it happen several times in just the past few weeks. Nobody got hurt, they say, but they're imploring residents to take precautions to avoid potential injuries, property damage and environmental problems.

They're asking that you not dump any ashes or embers into your trash until they've had at least 48 hours to cool.

The best thing to do is to close down your  grill -- lid, vents and all -- and let it sit for a couple of days. Once the ashes have cooled, wrap them in aluminum foil and put them a non-flammable outdoor trash bin.

If you have questions, don't wait until the fat's in the fire. Get hold of Yakima Waste Systems Inc.Richland Solid Waste or whatever garbage service you use to get the answers.

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