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Tire fire keeps smoldering in Pa.

April 09, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - A tire fire that kept firefighters busy for 10 hours on Thursday was still smoldering Friday, keeping a small crew at the scene working with hoses and a giant front-end loader.

Smoke continued to rise from tires buried under tons of wet dirt that had been piled over them on Thursday.

They had to be dug up so firefighters could douse them again with water.

"It's the only way to get water to them," said Kerry A. Leib, program manager with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's regional emergency response team.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, said Chief Nick Barbuzanes of the Mercersburg, Montgomery, Peters and Warren Fire Department.

Leib said the cause may stem from an outdoor fire at a nearby mobile home that got out of control and ignited leaves and brush on a hillside leading down to the tire pile.

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DEP investigators will return to the scene Monday, Leib said. Agency officials are concerned about runoff from the burning tires entering a tributary of the Conococheague Creek.

On Thursday firefighters installed a double dike to keep any oily runoff from entering the small stream.

Old tires are supposed to be taken to an approved shredding facility. DEP officials said Thursday they consider the pile that burned an illegal disposal site.

Under DEP rules the landowner is held responsible in such cases. Fines for criminal violations can run as high as $1,000 a day. If a civil case is filed against the owner by the state, fines could be as high as $10,000 a day, Leib said.

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