One of New York state's largest scrap tire piles caught fire March 9.
About 750,000 tires from a dump containing an estimated 8 million tires became engulfed by flames at 8:15 p.m. and produced thick, black smoke that coated nearby homes, said Lt. Thomas Japour of the Waterford Police Department. Hundreds of firefighters helped extinguish much of the fire by March 12, though the pile was still smoldering as of that date.
The cause of the fire, which occurred at the Mohawk Tire Storage Facility in Waterford, is still being investigated. The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is assessing the environmental impact of run-off created by the fire, a DEC spokeswoman said. Teams from the DEC created dams to prevent the run-off from heading into the nearby Hudson River, she said, and also vacuumed and treated some creek water. The DEC is monitoring the site and is awaiting test results of samples taken from the river.
Mohawk Tire Storage Facility, owned by Vincent and Kathryn Williamson, has accepted scrap tires for shredding and disposal since the early 1960s, the DEC spokeswoman said.
At one time, the site also operated a small retreading business and accumulated an estimated 12 million to 14 million tires.
``We've had a long history with this site,'' the spokeswoman said.
Since 1988-when New York adopted regulations for waste tire storage-Mohawk Tire Storage was required to get a permit for its tires and remediate the site. The firm's failure to comply caused the state to assume responsibility for the site. New York spent $2.3 million in 1999 to remove more than 2 million tires, create fire lanes, install water lines and hydrants and put up fencing, according to the spokeswoman.
The Williamsons have not yet been cited, but they already have pending litigation brought against them by the state attorney general's office, she said.