TRACY, Calif.—A year after one of California's largest tire piles caught fire, state and federal officials still are waiting for the site to burn out before they clean it up. On Aug. 7, 1998, a grass fire ignited approximately 7 million tires in a gravel pit at a dump in Tracy owned by S.F. Royster's Tire Co. The site is located in the San Joaquin Valley.
Though fire officials contained the site to the pit, the combination of whole tires and pyrolytic oil generated from combustion have taken longer to burn than expected, said a spokesman with the California Integrated Waste Management Board.
About 10 percent of the pile is still smoldering, the spokesman said. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will oversee assessment and cleanup operations once the fire is out.
Who will pay for remediation efforts also has yet to be determined, the spokesman said. Silas Royster, the owner of the dump, died 11 days after the pile ignited. His estate reached probate court on March 31.
In July, the California Attorney General's office filed a motion in San Joaquin County Superior Court against the Royster estate to recover cleanup costs. The board doesn't know how much the cleanup will cost or the value of the estate, the spokesman said.