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Published: Thursday, 7/8/2004

Junkyard tire blaze blackens the city sky


Scrap tires at a North Detroit Avenue junkyard burned for hours yesterday, with firefighters hampered by low water pressure.

A plume of dense black smoke that rose from Homer's 3 Storage and Towing, 4848 North Detroit, could be seen for miles as it was pushed by 25-mph winds with gusts up to 30 mph over I-75 toward Lake Erie.

There were no reports of injuries.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials from Detroit were to arrive last night to test air samples to check pollution emission levels.

The Ohio EPA said there was no immediate evidence of water runoff into nearby Shantee Creek caused by efforts to battle the blaze that started about 4:45 p.m.

The fire was contained to a ribbon of tires about 45 yards long and 10 feet high within an hour or so, but it continued to burn as low water pressure kept firefighters from effectively applying foam to smother it.

The several hundred gallons of foam that were sprayed over it by the Toledo Fire Department was not enough.

Help came when the BP Toledo Refinery emergency response team arrived about 8 p.m., bringing with it a 7,000-gallon tanker filled with foam.

"The fire is burrowing into the tires," BP Fire Chief Chris Herman said. "The tires melt and it turns into an oil slurry, and that is what is burning."

Toledo firefighters configured hoses and pumpers to increase water pressure, and then funneled foam onto the fire from a Toledo aerial ladder truck. The blaze was extinguished by 8:30 p.m.

"We were lucky enough to have some of these guys [employees of Homer's] pulling some of these tires out of the

way, but the foam really helped us out," Toledo Battalion Fire Chief Bill Sulewski said.

Employees of Homer's declined to comment on the blaze.

The cause of the fire was undetermined last night, officials said.

The Ohio EPA said last night it was having difficulty convincing the business owner to hire a cleanup firm to deal with the aftermath of the fire.

Jim Hamblin was listed as the property owner, and Larry Hamblin is the manager of the business, Ohio EPA officials said.

Mike Gerber, an Ohio EPA emergency response on-scene coordinator, said an assessment of cleanup responsibilities will be turned over to the Ohio EPA solid waste division and the Toledo-Lucas County health department.

An estimated 10,000 tires are at the site, city officials said.

Contact Jack Baessler at:


or 419-724-6050.

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