Plains Township, Pennsylvania Fire Official Targets Tires

PLAINS TWP. -- Dumped tires equal fire hazards.

Thats the major concern of Fire Department Capt. Tom Antosh, who wants to stop people from junking tires in secluded areas around the township.

Besides making the areas look like a dump, they (tires) are hard to put out.

His biggest concern is the hundreds of tires that are discarded on a wooded property about a quarter-mile from state Route 315 on Jumper Road.

The area is easily accessible for vehicles from a dirt road off Jumper Road and one from the parking lot of the Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center Heart Hospital.

And with both gates unlocked, anyone could get rid of tires at any time, he said.

If they catch on fire it could be devastating. They are right near the heart hospital were major surgeries happen.

George R. Schall of Shavertown owns the property and said it has been vacant for years, since the Cross-Valley was built.

I had it gated off, the owner of Shawnee Concrete said, but people keep busting them and dumping back there.

Schall said he will have the tires cleaned up as soon as he can so there will be no problems with authorities.

Bill Tomayko, waste management program manager of the state Department of Environmental Protection, said if property owners dont comply with the departments orders to remove tires, fines can range from $1,000 to $25,000, depending on the seriousness of the hazard.

He said he will send an inspector to the township to check on areas like the property Schall owns and will issue fines if necessary.

This is a serious issue. Dumped tires cause safety and environmental problems.

Tomayko said tires cause two main environmental issues: fires and stagnant water. He said tire fires are particularly hard to put out, and the smoke and odor are problems as well. He also said tires retain water, which becomes a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.

With the West Nile Virus, this can cause unsafe conditions. Plus it is near a hospital.

Antosh said tires also can be found scattered behind the Red Roof Inn on state Route 315 and where the culm banks are being torn down near the River Street Jazz Cafe on River Street, an area owned by Northampton Fuel Co.

Antosh said whoever is responsible for the dumping will be fined and will be responsible for cleaning up the mess.

We have some leads we are following now. We just have to track down the problem makers.

Distributed by the Associated Press