Burn Rubber: The World’s 9 Worst Tire Fires

Kirby’s Tire Recycling Fire, Ohio USA

(images via: EPA Ohio)

An arson fire set by four teenage boys in August of 1999 at the Kirby Tire Recycling Facility, Inc. in rural Wyandotte County, Ohio, resulted in roughly 5 million tires going up in flames while a host of organic pollutants and poisonous heavy metals soaked into the soil, contaminating groundwater. Before and “during” photos above document the results of the boys’ foolish and irresponsible act.

(image via: EPA Ohio)

Efforts to quench the blaze using water and foam proved ineffective; burying the burning piles of tires under excavated soil finally succeeded in snuffing the flames. The Ohio EPA spent the better part of a decade digging up and disposing of the buried tires, finally declaring the site to be acceptably cleaned in the spring of 2008. The above image dates from December of 2006.

Romantic Tire Fire, Reykjavik, Iceland

(image via: Vagabond Journey)

Ahh, the romance of tire fires… the scent of combusting petrochemicals, the gentle rain of fine soot, the – wait, what?? Leave it to Icelanders to take in a tire fire much as one would enjoy a fireworks display. The above tire fire, captured photographically on July 11th of 2011 by Wade Shepard of Vagabond Journey, may have been small but it lingered stubbornly as firefighters struggled for hours to douse the flames. Either conventional entertainment is lacking in the chilly North Atlantic nation or the natives just like a little fire with their ice.

St. Lucie County Tire Fire, Florida USA

(images via: TCPALM/Catherine Cheney)

Kudos and credit goes out to St. Lucie County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Catherine Cheney for documenting the fight to contain a tire fire at a tire recycling plant in St. Lucie County, Florida. The fire, ascribed to spontaneous combustion, began burning on August 30th, 2010 but firefighters employed earthmovers and other types of heavy equipment to bury the burning tires and snuff the blaze within 48 hours.

(image via: FARK.com)

The dark color of tires absorbs heat from sunlight and as their vulcanized rubber composition poorly conducts heat, piles of tires stored outdoors in hot climates never fully cool down at night. The problem has long been recognized but basically, how and where else can one store millions of waste tires?

(image via: Tribe.net)

Tire fires have almost become a cliché due to their frequency and newsworthiness… wait, did we say “almost”? It’s a pretty good bet that if your topical phenomenon makes The Simpsons, the topic’s place in pop culture is pretty much assured. DOH!