Jodi Hernandez

Foam Used in Garbage Truck Fire Blamed for Killing Fish in Berkeley Creek

Fish are apparently dying as a result of foam used to put out a garbage truck fire making its way into a nearby creek in Berkeley.

Conservationists and neighbors are concerned, but the Berkeley Fire Department said it had a good reason to use the foam.

Firefighters used "Class A foam" to put out a dangerous garbage truck fire in North Berkeley.

"It's really disappointing and frustrating, and sad," Ben Eichenberg with the San Francisco Baykeeper said of foam getting into Codornices Creek.

Eichenberg is surveying the impact and taking samples to determine what species of fish have been affected. He said the Berkeley Fire Department has some explaining to do.

"Maybe this is an event we can use to get the message out," Eichenberg said. "This type of pollution really needs to be taken care of."

Berkeley Fire Battalion Chief Brian Harryman acknowledges the foam can be toxic to wildlife, but said the garbage truck's natural gas tanks were at risk of exploding. Firefighters were in a position of weighing the risk versus the gain.

"The garbage truck was on fire in a residential neighborhood close to school," Harryman said. "And if those natural gas cylinders had exploded, we probably would be looking at a much more possibly deadly situation."

Fire department officials say they are taking steps to clean the foam.

Meanwhile, neighbors and conservationists want to make sure a similar incident impacting wildlife does not happen again.

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