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Massive Tire Fire Extinguished In Kanawha County; Environmental Impact Investigated

Reported: Jan. 20, 2014 5:42 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 20, 2014 11:22 PM EST
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BELLE, W.Va. (Kera Mashek) -- An investigation was underway Monday, following a fire at a former coal stripping mine in Belle. The fire sent thick, black smoke billowing into the air, a plume that could be seen for miles.

It's what caught fire that was concerning. A big pile of over 50 industrial sized tires burned Monday afternoon. The tires were used in the former coal stripping operation, and the material in those tires is what created the thick smoke cloud and strong smell around the Kanawha Valley.

The old mine site is owned by Development Services, Inc. and equipment is in the process of being taken down from the mountainside on Col. Pauley Road, just north of Riverside High School. There was no power to the site, so investigators think the fire is probably an arson. Because of the materials in rubber tires, and in light of the water crisis, fire crews took extra precautions and did not use water fighting the fire in order to limit the environmental risk.

"Luckily, the coal mine was able to provide an excavator and they were able to bury the tires to put the fire out, so that cut down on a lot of smoke. You know, and also with the water, and even if you use foam, you'd of had run off from the foam and the water into local watersheds," Belle Volunteer Fire Chief Chris Fletcher said.

Because of the air pollution concerns and other environmental factors, three DEP investigators were called in to inspect the site Monday. No word if the company could face any penalties, or if investigators have any leads on the person who might have set the fire.

Development Services had a guard posted at the entrance to the business, and we were told the company will not comment about the fire investigation.



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