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Tire fire in Midway Ranch could burn for weeks

Fire tire could burn for weeks

EL PASO COUNTY, Colorado - The only remaining flames from the Carson-Midway fire are burning in 100,000 tires in Midway Ranch.

A property's perimeter made up of entwined recyclable tires caught flame Friday night. Hanover fire crews originally tried using water to put it out, but that quickly proved ineffective. Fort Carson helped efforts with cold-fire foam, but even that didn't make a dent.

Hanover Fire Chief Carl Tatum said, "You know everything we've been taught from the county hazmat team and fire agencies just haven't worked."

It could be weeks before the fire is out, but that's sending toxic smoke into the air toward homes.

Now, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken over. On scene coordinator, Duane Newell says, "Tires have a lot of polyaromatic hydrocarbons in them and metals that can impact the environment and it can get into the water."

Not much water was left behind because it quickly evaporated after falling on the extremely hot flames, but either way, Chief Tatum is still taking precaution. "What goes into the ground has got to be cleaned up and we may be able to get the tire fire out at some point in time. But, how far down do we need to over dig this and clean it back up and make it so it's not a danger to the environment?" he said.

This clean-up process could take weeks. Newell says the first step for crews is bringing out heavy equipment and tearing apart the tire bails. The bails are made up of the rubber left behind when it's separated from a rim. Those are then entwined together and recycled for other products.

Because the tires are so tightly entwined, it's making it harder for crews to put out. Newell says, "They're difficult to put out because they generate a lot of oxygen and are able to sustain themselves even under dirt."

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