Tire fire

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A tire fire in Philadelphia on November 9, 2021

Tire fires are events that involve the combustion of large quantities of tires, usually waste tires, typically in locations where they are stored, dumped, or processed. They exist in two forms: as fast-burning events, leading to almost immediate loss of control, and as slow-burning pyrolysis which can continue for over a decade. They are noted for being difficult to extinguish. Such fires produce much smoke, which carries toxic chemicals from the breakdown of synthetic rubber compounds while burning.[1]

Tire fires are normally the result of arson or improper manipulation with open fire. Additionally protestors regularly burn tires as part of protests.[2][3] Tires are not prone to self-ignition, as a tire must be heated to at least 400 degrees Celsius (750 degrees Fahrenheit) for a period of several minutes prior to ignition.

A deliberately set fire during a protest in Lille, France observed by emergency workers waiting to manage the fire.

Extinguishing tire fires is difficult. The fire releases a dark, rich smoke that contains cyanide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and products of butadiene and styrene. Burning tires are heated, and, as they have a low thermal conductivity, they are difficult to cool down. Moreover, they frequently burn inside even if they are extinguished from outside, and easily reignite when hot. One possible remedy is to cover the fire with sand, reducing the supply of oxygen and the exhaust of smoke. After extinguishing and cooling down (which may last several days), toxic chemicals can be neutralized.[4]

Use in protest[edit]

Tires being burned as part of the 2018–2023 Haitian crisis

Because waste tires are readily available and produce dense smoke, protestors sometimes burn tires and create tire barriers as part of protest.[5] For example, an analysis in The Times of Israel noticed an increasing trend of tire burning in the demonstrations following the 17 October Revolution.[6]

Notable tire fires[edit]

Some notable tire fires include:

  • 1983 – Arsonists ignited seven million tires that burned for nine months in Winchester, Virginia, polluting nearby areas with lead and arsenic. The location was cleaned up as a Superfund project from 1983 to 2002.[7]
  • 1984 – A pile estimated at four million tires, known locally as Mount Firestone, ignited in Everett, Washington, and burned for months as the fire department was unable to extinguish it.[8]
  • 1989 – In Heyope (near Knighton, Powys, Wales), a fire involving approximately 10 million tires began which still smouldered 15 years later.[9]
  • 1990 – In Hagersville, Ontario, a fire started in a pile of 12 to 14 million tires; it burned for 17 days and forced 4,000 people to evacuate.[10]
  • 1993 - In Inwood, West Virginia, Berkeley County, West Virginia, Charles David Knox a local volunteer firefighter in Inwood set fire to a 10 acre pile of tires; the fire burnt for 3 days before being brought under control. Mutual aid for tankers was called from as far away as Texas. The 1993 Inwood tire fire response was set as the example on how to fight tire fires, some of the techniques used in the 1993 Inwood tire fire are still used to this day. [11][12]
  • 1994 – In East Chicago, Indiana, a fire consumed 70,000 tons of tires and shredded rubber. It started on July 16, 1994 and burned until August 22, 1994.[13]
  • 1995 – The Hornburg tire fire in Sinclairville, New York burned over a million tires in a blaze lasting more than a week.[14]
  • 1995 - In Grawn, Michigan, a tire fire from a retreading service at 5175 Sawyer Woods Drive burned for three weeks and resulted in PFAS contamination of local residential drinking water wells. The fire began on December 29, 1995.[15]
  • 1996 – An arson in March at an illegal tire yard underneath a section of I-95 in Philadelphia caused $6 million in damage and completely closed a section of the highway for weeks and partial closures for six months.[16][17]
  • 1998 – A grass fire ignited the 7 million tires at the unlicensed S.F. Royster Tire Disposal Facility in Tracy, California. It was extinguished, after 26 months, with water and foam in December 2000.[18]
  • 1999 – On August 21, arsonists ignited the former Kirby Tire Recycling facility, containing an estimated 25 million tires located on 110 acres (0.45 km2) near Sycamore, Ohio. The fire burned for 30 hours, involved over 250 firefighters, the Ohio National Guard and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and caused significant environmental damage. The fire was controlled and finally extinguished in part by covering it with dirt. In the intervening years the EPA has performed a massive clean up effort on the site.[19][20]
  • 1999 – Lightning struck a tire dump in Westley, California, which burned for 30 days. Pyrolitic oil flowed into a nearby stream and also ignited.
  • 2002 – The EnTire Tire Recycling facility in Nebraska City, Nebraska burned for over eleven days. An explosion occurred during the firefighting effort, injuring thirteen firefighters. Multiple evacuations of up to a 30-block area were ordered during the event. Over 40 agencies assisted during the event at an estimated cost of $1.4 million.[21]
  • 2005 – A fire started at Watertown Tire Recyclers in Watertown, Wisconsin on July 19 and burned for six days. 108 fire departments and more than 25 agencies assisted in handling the disaster.[22]
  • 2008 – a malfunction in the chopper/shredder line of the Golden by-products tire recycling plant in Ballico, California ignited rubber debris around the conveyor system which then ignited two multi-ton piles of shredded/chopped rubber. It only burned for about 12 hours but took over 1 million gallons of water to extinguish. The piles were allowed to form a crust which in turn smothered the fires in them. The plant was later cited for exceeding permitted capacity.[23][24]
  • 2012 – On January 27, 2012, a massive tire fire sparked at a tire recycling plant in Lockport, New York, causing dangerous amounts of soot and smoke to burn over the city for over 22 hours, causing serious damage to many homes.
  • 2012 – In Sulaibiya, Kuwait, a five million tire fire erupted on April 16, 2012.[25] The fire was thought to be started deliberately by scrap metal hawkers looking to recover scrap metal.
  • 2012 – In Iowa City, Iowa, at approximately 6:45 p.m. on May 26, 2012, a fire started in the ground tire bedding material at the Iowa City Landfill, involving at least 7.5 acres of landfill. It was finally extinguished on June 12, 2012, after a "stir, burn and cover" operation.[26]
  • 2012 – Tire fire protests erupted all over Lebanon. Protesters used burning tires to cut off main roads in Lebanon.
  • 2013 – Static electricity ignited a fire at J&R Tire Recycling in Hoopeston, Illinois. Over 100 firefighters from two states fought the fire, in which over 50,000 tires burned, for three days.[27]
  • 2013 – Tire fire ignited in Nassau, Bahamas. The poorly managed municipal dump has had multiple fires and finally resulted in a tire fire on August 13.
  • 2014 – Tire fire ignited in Savannah, Georgia on February 8, 2014.
  • 2015 – On August 18, in northwest Oklahoma, a tire fire in a large pile of tires next to the premises of A&T Tire and Wheel set the exterior of the business ablaze, but crews prevented flames from getting inside.[28]
  • 2015 – On August 18, a fire in Oregon disrupted the Warm Springs Tribal Reservation. Erroneously referred to by locals and news media as a "tire fire", the blaze caused by the sparks formed from a recreational vehicle driving on a bare rim engulfed more than 60,000 acres of land at the reservation.[29]
  • 2016 – On May 13, in Seseña, Spain, a fire started in a tire dump containing around 5 million tires.[30]
  • 2016 – On August 10, a tire fire sparked at Liberty Tire Recycling in Lockport, New York. Over 8 million pounds of crumb rubber ignited, destroying four buildings and evacuating over 400 families from nearby homes.
  • 2017 – On January 17, a tire fire started at Federal Corporation Zhongli Factory in Taoyuan, Taiwan. More than half the factory (50,000 square meters) was on fire and over 140 families were evacuated from nearby homes. The area was heavily contaminated with carbon black.
  • 2017 – On March 5 at 10:58 pm, firefighters responded to a fire at the EnTire Recycling facility in Phelps City, Missouri. Heavy smoke caused intermittent closure of Highway 136 and officials to advise nearby residents to avoid breathing the smoke, which could be seen over 10 miles away. This fire continued to smolder through August 2017.
  • 2017 – On April 9, a controlled tire fire was started in West Odessa, Texas.[citation needed]
  • 2020 – On July 22 at 4:30 pm, firefighters in Weld County, Colorado responded to a fire at a tire recycling facility. Early reports suggested a fire began on equipment which quickly spread to piles of tires. Local officials requested aid from a supertanker aircraft due to the size of the fire and unseasonably dry conditions.
  • 2020 – On October 18, a massive fire in the Sulaibiya tire graveyard, the site of a similar fire in 2012, burned approximately 1 million tires in 25,000 square meters.[25]
  • 2020 - On November 16, 90 firefighters and 15 appliances attended a major fire involving 600,000 tires stored at a former go-karting facility in Bradford, England. The fire was declared out a week later.[31][32] Three people were arrested in connection to the fire, however they were later released without charge.[33]
  • 2021 — On November 9, approximately 100 firefighters responded to a tire fire at a recycling facility in southwest Philadelphia.[34] Unusual winds brought the fire's smoke across Philadelphia's Center City and into New Jersey.[35]
  • 2022 — On October 13, a protestor started a tire fire on Sitong Bridge in Beijing, China. The protester, dubbed "Bridge Man",[36] used a tire fire to bring passersby attention to an unfurled banner.[37]

In popular culture[edit]

In popular culture the phrase is used to mean a horrifying mess that seems to last forever.[citation needed]

The TV show The Simpsons is set in a fictional town called Springfield, which features a permanent tire fire.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Environmental Engineering and Contracting, Inc. (September 23, 2002). Tire Pile Fires—Prevention, Response, Remediation (PDF) (Report). United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  2. ^ Zalakeviciute, Rasa; Alexandrino, Katiuska; Mejia, Danilo; Bastidas, Marco G.; Oleas, Nora H.; Gabela, Diana; Chau, Phuong Ngoc; Bonilla-Bedoya, Santiago; Diaz, Valeria; Rybarczyk, Yves (2021). "The effect of national protest in Ecuador on PM pollution". Scientific Reports. 11 (1): 17591. Bibcode:2021NatSR..1117591Z. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-96868-6. PMC 8413373. PMID 34475460.
  3. ^ Agencies. "'The fire releases our anger': Tire-burning becomes hallmark of Lebanon protests". www.timesofisrael.com. Retrieved February 26, 2023.
  4. ^ "Tire fire from Expert Viewpoint". Technet Idnes. June 29, 2007. Archived from the original on July 1, 2007. Retrieved June 30, 2007.
  5. ^ Agencies. "'The fire releases our anger': Tire-burning becomes hallmark of Lebanon protests". www.timesofisrael.com. Retrieved February 26, 2023.
  6. ^ Agencies. "'The fire releases our anger': Tire-burning becomes hallmark of Lebanon protests". www.timesofisrael.com. Retrieved February 26, 2023.
  7. ^ "Rhinehart Tire Fire Dump". Superfund Information Systems. Environmental Protection Agency. Archived from the original on October 8, 2006. Retrieved March 20, 2006.
  8. ^ Smith, Debra. "The great Everett tire fire, 25 years later". Everett Herald. Archived from the original on October 9, 2016. Retrieved September 24, 2009.
  9. ^ Environment Agency Wales: Regulation of Waste Management (PDF). Wales: National Audit Office. October 28, 2004. p. 33. ISBN 1-904219-23-3. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 8, 2012.
  10. ^ "That Burning Sensation – Tire Fires". Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council. Archived from the original on January 4, 2006. Retrieved March 20, 2006.
  11. ^ Sullivan, Kevin (September 15, 1993). "ARSON SUSPECTED IN W. VIRGINIA TIRE FIRE". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved October 11, 2023.
  12. ^ Sullivan, Kevin (September 29, 1993). "FIREFIGHTER IS CHARGED WITH ARSON". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved October 11, 2023.
  13. ^ Harvey, Lauri. "Cleanup from tire fire of 1994 nearly complete". nwitimes.com. Archived from the original on September 16, 2018. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  14. ^ "Firefighters Battle Blaze at Tire Mound - the New York Times". The New York Times. April 24, 1995. Archived from the original on July 23, 2018. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  15. ^ "Carl's Retreading (Grawn, Grand Traverse County)".
  16. ^ "I-95 Shut Down by Tire Fire Highway Damaged; Arsonists Sought". Archived from the original on April 15, 2016. Retrieved October 25, 2012.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 15, 2016. Retrieved October 25, 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Tracy Tire Fire Remedial Action Plan" (PDF). California Department of Toxic Substance Control. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 25, 2006. Retrieved November 15, 2006.
  19. ^ "Kirby Tire Fire August 21st, 1999 Report Presentation" (PDF). Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  20. ^ http://www.epa.gov/reg5rcra/wptdiv/solidwaste/tires/large2.pdf[dead link]
  21. ^ "USFA-TR-145 – Tire Recycling Facility Fire" (PDF). US Fire Administration. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 16, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  22. ^ "Watertown Tire Fire". Archived from the original on August 9, 2016. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  23. ^ "Merced County firefighters battle two rural blazes" (PDF). www.valleyair.org. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  24. ^ "CalRecycle, Golden By-Products reach settlement". Rubber & Plastics News. October 16, 2014. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  25. ^ a b "Kuwait: Fire ripped through 25,000 square meters of Al Sulabiya tire site". gulfnews.com. October 23, 2020. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  26. ^ Hermiston, Lee. "After 15 days, landfill fire is extinguished". Iowa City Press Citizen. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
  27. ^ "Hoopeston Fire". WILL. June 20, 2014. Archived from the original on October 31, 2015. Retrieved April 21, 2022.
  28. ^ "Tire fire is out in northwest Oklahoma City Tuesday". NewsOK. August 18, 2015. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  29. ^ "Morning Edition: In Oregon, Warm Springs Fire Disrupts Tribal Reservation". NPR. August 19, 2015. Archived from the original on May 8, 2016. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  30. ^ "Spain: Massive Fire Breaks out at Tire Dump Near Madrid". ABC News. May 13, 2016. Archived from the original on May 14, 2016. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
  31. ^ "Bradford tyre fire: Crews still at scene of blaze a week on". BBC News. November 23, 2020. Retrieved January 16, 2022.
  32. ^ Young, Chris (February 27, 2021). "Every single West Yorkshire firefighter needed to tackle huge Bradford tyre blaze". Yorkshire Live. Retrieved January 16, 2022.
  33. ^ Winrow, Jo (November 26, 2021). "Operator of site of major Bradford tyre fire faces court". Telegraph & Argus. Bradford. Retrieved January 16, 2022.
  34. ^ Moran, Robert (November 10, 2021). "2-alarm junkyard fire erupts in Southwest Philly". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved November 10, 2021.
  35. ^ "Photos of the tire fire in Southwest Philly that sent plumes of smoke stretching for miles". Billy Penn. November 10, 2021. Retrieved November 10, 2021.
  36. ^ Sullivan, Kevin (September 29, 1993). "FIREFIGHTER IS CHARGED WITH ARSON". The Washington Post.
  37. ^ "China protest: Mystery Beijing demonstrator sparks online hunt and tributes". BBC News. October 14, 2022. Retrieved July 6, 2023.

External links[edit]