The owner of a Watertown tire recycling firm may face criminal charges for a tire fire at his facility last summer.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced Oct. 12 that it has referred the case of Watertown Tire Recyclers L.L.C. and its owner, Thomas Springer, to the Wisconsin Department of Justice for alleged scrap tire storage and permit violations.
Mr. Springer told local newspapers that either a spark or internal combustion ignited the July 19 fire, which burned for five days. Approximately half of the chipped and whole tires stored on the property-equivalent to about 650,000 passenger tires, according to the Wisconsin DNR-were destroyed in the blaze. So was the Watertown Tire Recyclers facility and a house next door that Mr. Springer owned but did not occupy.
Mr. Springer only had storage permits for 200,000 passenger tire equivalents on his property, said Gene Mitchell, waste team leader at the DNR office in Fitchburg, Wis. The site also had insufficient fire lanes between the scrap tire piles, Mr. Mitchell said. In April the Dodge County Board of Assessment ruled Mr. Springer in violation of his permit and ordered him to clean up his property.
Vicki Zick, Mr. Springer's attorney, filed an appeal of the Dodge County ruling in May. That appeal was still pending when the fire broke out.