Huge tire fire in Maricopa capped with dirt

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on April 12, 2011 at 6:28 AM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 12 at 9:39 AM

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MARICOPA, Ariz. – Crews have capped a huge tire fire in Maricopa with tons of dirt, effectively smothering it.

The fire broke out at about 7 p.m. Monday at Arizona Rubber Recycling. A 10,000-square-foot are of tires was burning, the huge flames sending thick, black plumes of smoke into the air.

Tire fires can often burn for several days. Fire crews can’t use water on such fires because the oil and chemicals in the tires that are known to call caner can leach into the groundwater. According to Rubber Manufacturers Association, about 7 gallons of oil is used to produce a tire.

Five gallons are used as feedstock, which is the actual material that’s used to make the tire. The remaining two supply the energy for the production process.

This is not the first tire fire at Arizona Rubber Recycling, which recycles tires into rubberized coating for roads. There were incidents in 2003, 2005 and 2007. That last one burned for nearly a week and spawned a massive column of smoke that rose 25,000 feet into the air, said Brad Pitassi of the Maricopa Fire Department.

It’s not clear what sparked Monday night’s fire. Crews with Karey Environmental Services spent the night using heavy equipment to bury the fire, capping it with dirt.

Although the smoke has cleared, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and Pinal County Air Quality Control have put air monitors in place.

Crews will keep an eye on the situation for the next several days. Once the fire is completely extinguished, which could take days or even months, environmental experts will take samples of the dirt to makes sure there is no toxic content.

No injuries were reported.

Maricopa is 36 miles south of Phoenix.

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