Crews Work To Put Out Tire Fire

By: Nick Bona
By: Nick Bona

Harriman (WVLT) - The power is finally back on for residents living near the sight of a massive fire at a tire store in Roane County Friday. Nearly 100 firefighters suited up to battle the flames and the heat of the sun all afternoon. The fire burned so large all the county's emergency agencies were there. Plus, more than dozen fire departments from neighboring counties.

It erupted at Tim's Tire Shop. That's just north of Harriman on Highway 27.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy's was there as firefighters doused the flames.

The flames weren't the only part of the fire that posed a risk for neighbors. Emergency workers say tire fire smoke is more hazardous than your run-of-the-mill house fire.
That's because the material in tires puts more cancer-causing chemicals in the air. Now add in the heat and firefighters had their hands full.

The smoke billows thick.

"It looked like it was turning night," resident Barbara Hall said.

The smell unbearable.

"It smells bad. It's polluted my breathing space," Hall said.

But it's not enough to shake Barbara Hall's stare.

"I was looking out the back window, and I noticed the smoke, then I looked a little further, and I seen the tires on fire," Hall said.

Just yards away from her apartment window, thousand of tires burn. The fire at Tim's Tire Shop erupted around 12:30. Why? Firefighters don't know.

"We probably got 25 to 30 trucks out here and probably about 100 men," Harriman Fire Chief Wayne Best said.

Including every emergency agency in Roane County. Plus more than a dozen fire departments from neighboring counties.

"Pretty good size fire," Best said.

The tires turning toxic smoke into the air.

"It's because of what they're made of, and that's mainly petroleum and when petroleum burns it gives off a lot of nasty bi-products," said Howie Rose from the Roane County EMA.

Neighbors, like Hall, within a half-mile were told to stay inside.

"I feel sorry for the firefighters that have to be in this," Hall said.

Because the heat from fire plus the the summer sun's almost too much too bear.

"The guys have really slowed down as far as their action because the sun does take a toll on you," Harriman firefighter John Johnson said.

So much crews can only go in 10 minutes at time. Then it's back out for fans and re-hab.

"They get I.V.s put in and a lot of fluids," Best said.

But no one seriously hurt. Another factor, the closest hydrant is about a quarter mile away. So trucks have to leave and bring water back. So far, 100,000 gallons worth.
But at least, the wind's on their side with the smoke.

"The wind's been helping us out by keeping it moving," Best said.

Thankfully, Hall says, away from her.

There was added concern because of exactly where the fire happened. Power lines hung just above the shop. Those were turned off, but are now back on.

The shop was also next door to a gas station. That gas station shut off all it's pumps. They'll go back on Saturday morning.

Emergency workers say no one was injured by the smoke. Also, there were 12 people inside the shop when the fire broke out, but none was hurt.


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