Tyre Fires

Hazardous Waste Materials Can Be Turned To Reusable Resources

Dumping tyres at landfills can never be a long-term solution.

When scrap tyres are buried, they tend to rise back to the surface because the trapped gases provide a floating action, exposing the surrounding area to toxic gases and fumes from inside the landfill.  When on the surface, the tyres attract disease-carrying rodents and mosquitoes, which breed in the stagnant rain water that collects inside the tyres.

Although tyres remain substantially intact for decades or even centuries, some of their components can break down and leach into the ground and contaminate the water table, including highly toxic additives used in their manufacture, such as zinc, chromium, lead, copper, cadmium and sulphur.

Tyres can retain heat and oxygen in their cavities which may cause them to ignite when they are piled or stacked.  Tyre fires spew noxious smoke and create run-off of toxic oil, dangerous heavy metals and soot.  These fires are difficult to put out and can burn for months.

Some notable tyre fires around the world:-

  • 1983 – Seven million tyres burned in Winchester, Virginia for nine months, polluting nearby areas with lead and arsenic. The location was cleaned up as a Superfund project from 1983 to 2002.
  • 1984 – A pile estimated at four million tyres ignited in Everett, Washington and burned for months as the fire department was unable to extinguish it.
  • 1989 – A fire involving approximately 10 million tyres burned for at least 15 years in Heyopes, a deep wooded valley in Wales.  The wood was too densely packed for firefighters to extinguish, and there were no flames but temperature readings confirmed the intense heat generated below the ground surface.
  • 1990 – In Hagersville, Ontario, a fire started in a stockpile of 12 to 14 million tyres.  It burned for 17 days and nearly forced 4,000 people to evacuate.
  • 1998 – A grass fire ignited the 7 million tyres at the unlicensed S.F. Royster Tyre Disposal Facility in Tracy, California.  It was extinguished after 26 months with water and foam in December, 2000.
  • 1999 – On August 21, arsonists ignited the former Kirby Tyre Recycling facility, containing an estimate 25 million tyres dumped on 110 acres near Sycamore, Ohio. The fire burned for 30 hours, involved over 250 firefighters, the Ohio National Guard and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and caused significant environmental damage.  The fire was controlled and finally extinguished in part by covering it with dirt.  In the intervening years, the EPA has performed a massive cleanup effort on the site.
  • 1999 – Lightning struck a tyre dump in Westley, California, which burned for 30 days. Oil from the burning tyres flowed into a nearby stream and also ignited.
  • 2012  ̶  On April 16, a stockpile of 7 million tyres in Jahra, Kuwait started to burn in the desert, polluting the entire region.  Fire was thought to be started deliberately for commercial gain.
  • 2012 – A fire started at the Iowa City landfill from ground tyre rubber on May 26 and was finally put out on June 12.

Still other tyres are burned as tyre-derived fuel (TDF) in cement plants, power generation facilities, paper and steel mills which releases benzene, lead, butadiene, styrene and other potential carcinogens into the air we breathe.

Environmentalists and scientists are becoming increasingly concerned that this burning causes emissions of sulphur dioxide and ultra-fine dust particles to increase many folds, causing a detrimental effect on our health.  They also claim that carcinogenic dioxins produced by the burning of the chlorinated elements in the tyres have a toxicity all of their own.

Maxlink, a total solution provider for the recycling of scrap tyres into new reusable forms, utilizes the most eco-friendly methods for processing tyre-derived rubber crumbs to devulcanized rubber and rubber modified asphalt.