Firefighters spend night battling blaze at previously cited Florida Tire Recycling

By Liz Flaisig staff writer
September 2, 2003

PORT ST. LUCIE -- A mound of burning tires was finally under control Monday afternoon after firefighters spent all night battling more than 20-foot-high flames.

Firefighters were called to Florida Tire Recycling on Range Line Road at 12:31 a.m. on Labor Day after the large pile of shredded tires caught fire.

Three engines, two tankers, a brush truck and 20 firefighters responded to the blaze, St. Lucie County Fire District spokeswoman Lt. Marti Newport said.

The pile of scrap tires and metal was 500 feet long, 20 feet high and 50 feet wide.

Although the tire recycling business has seen two other tire fires within the last year, this blaze proved more difficult to control because Florida Power & Light Company power lines run parallel to it, Newport said.

Once power was turned off to the area and chlorine rail tank cars were removed, Newport said firefighters began to make headway.

By 2 p.m., seven firefighters remained on the scene with the pile still actively burning in some spots. Power was restored and the tankers returned to the property.

"It's been burning the whole time but now that we're seeing some tire separation we've started making progress," Newport said. "This wasn't as bad as it has been in the past. We're getting used to it now and we can solve the problem quicker."

Rain helped dampen the thick, black smoke emanating from the pile and an irrigation tractor was used to contain the fire, Newport said.

Firefighters are expected to leave the scene sometime today, when the business' owner brings portable pumps to continue extinguishing the tires.

Florida Tire Recycling was cited in 2001 for non-compliance with state environmental laws.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection cited the company for exceeding the amount of tires it was allowed to store, putting tires in unauthorized areas and failing to provide adequate fire lanes. The business was also not properly bonded, according to DEP.

Representatives for DEP and Florida Tire Recycling were unavailable for comment Monday. County fire inspectors have not determined the cause of the fire