Tire fire prompts new rules

Published 10:53 am Wednesday, November 29, 2017

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

Earlier this year, thousands of tires caught fire at Carrollton Metals on Brewer’s Neck Boulevard, pumping thick black billows of smoke into the sky and costing tens of thousands of dollars to get under control.

Now, Isle of Wight County is looking to prevent such a large-scale incident from happening again.

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According to a new addition to the fire prevention ordinance presented to the Board of Supervisors last month, any person accumulating, storing or disposing of more than 250 used tires is required to notify the county’s fire official, and any storing of more than 1,000 used tires will require a permit to do so.{mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The size and spacing of the tire stockpiles is also addressed in the ordinance, with the maximum width of any tire stockpile limited to 50 feet, and the maximum height restricted to 5 feet. All stockpiles will also be required to be a minimum of 50 feet away from each other or any building or structure.

Carrollton, Smithfield, Windsor and Rushmere volunteer fire departments responded to the blazing tires at the scrap yard on April 12, along with the Isle of Wight Volunteer Rescue Squad, the Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Services, the fire raging for more than three hours before being stifled. The smoke could be seen from miles away.

The Chesapeake Foam Task Force was called in to assist, unleashing large quantities of foam onto a roughly 20-foot high flaming heap of rubber to get the fire under control.

While an exact cost of all the resources used by the county to put out the fire and keep it contained has not been calculated, the cost of the foam alone was $27,000, according to Chief of Emergency Services Jeff Terwilliger.

The county was able to get the cost of the foam to be covered by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, according to Terwilliger.

“In this instance, we were fortunate that the State agreed to pick up the cost of the foam,” Terwilliger said in an email. “Without such, we would have pursued cost recovery of the foam from the property owner.”

The approximately 2,000 tires at Carrollton Metals that caught aflame were stacked in one large pile when they caught fire, according Terwilliger.  {/mprestriction}