Tire fire's cost may reach $100,000

March 13, 1997


Staff Writer

Fire officials Thursday estimated that the cost of fighting a tire fire near Cearfoss on Tuesday could reach $100,000, and state officials said they are reviewing the price of cleaning up the property.

Incident Commander Lt. Ian Swisher of the Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Co. said the department is tallying up costs of battling the blaze, which burned for about 13 hours and destroyed a 100-by-200 foot stretch behind a home on 17049 Castle Hill Road.

The owner, Denzil Poling, used tires as containers for growing tomatoes and peppers.

Swisher said foam used to prevent the fire from spreading carries a price tag of $25,000. Other costs include damaged equipment, fuel and cleaning bills, he said.


After the other 13 companies that battled the blaze compile their costs, Swisher said Maugansville will fold it into a statement of services. That should be ready sometime next week, he added.

Normally, the insurance company will pick up the costs of a fire, but Swisher said he believes Poling's agriculture insurance will not cover the costs.

"We'd have to go to other sources, like the county, our insurance companies and the (Maryland) Department of Environment," Swisher said. "This is pretty much a new situation for me."

Richard Collins, director of the state Waste Management Administration, will decide how to proceed with cleanup of the site. Quentin Banks, a spokesman for the Department of Environment, said the primary concern is cleaning up the burned-out area.

Thick puddles of oil mark the area. Banks said that is a concern because melting tires release petroleum, which can contaminate the ground.

Although no decision has been made in this case, Banks said the property owner normally is responsible for cleanup costs. He said the department often works with property owners to set up timeframes and work plans.

Poling did not return phone calls Thursday. He said on Wednesday that he does not have money to pay for a cleanup.

If a property owner cannot clean up a contaminated area, Banks said the department will do the work and then bill the property owner. In the past, he said, the department has gone to court to seek compensation.

"We are very good about getting reimbursed," he said. "We don't usually have to do that, but when we have to, we usually get what we ask for."

Other issues still have to be sorted out, Banks said, ranging from determining the extent of damage to determining the current status of Poling's permit.

Poling got the permit to be a licensed primary collection facility. The permit allowed him to use the tires for his unique growing process.

Banks said the state has granted the license to two other facilities in Washington County - the sanitary landfill on Resh Road and Independent Cement Corp. in Hagerstown.

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