Fire chief gives update on smoldering tire-fill site

Firefighters attend to a smoldering mound of shredded tires, which was destined to be used as ground fill, in South Sound Thursday.

Though the smoldering tire-derived aggregate fire in the South Sound area is largely extinguished, there were still four “hot spots” at the site that were dug out and cooled Monday morning, according to Chief Fire Officer David Hails.

Mr. Hails held a press conference Monday afternoon to update the public on the situation. He said the fire posed no risk to the public, but that he wanted to provide facts about it to avoid speculation.

According to the fire chief, the fire started on Wednesday because the shredded tire material was stacked too high. The decomposing areas near the bottom of the pile of the aggregate material did not have a chance to dissipate heat because the stack was too large, he explained.

Work is currently under way to reduce the height of the material and to spread it around, he said.

Mr. Hails added that the site was never a full-fledged fire, but was a smoldering fire that could have posed a risk if it were left untended.

The material came from the George Town landfill, where nearly 6,700 metric tons (14.8 million pounds) of shredded tires have been produced since March 2017, when government contracted a private company to shred the tires and sell the resulting tire-derived aggregate to various developers.

Jim Schubert, the senior project manager for the government’s solid waste management system, said in July that about 5,000 metric tons of shredded tires have already been sold to Davenport Development to fill the site of a condominium the company built in South Sound.

Davenport Development director Paul Pearson said the incident has not caused any damage to his property, and that the aggregate can still be used as fill.

Mr. Hails said Davenport Development will be presented with a fire safety inspector report, which will outline the situation and state whether any regulations were violated in the handling of the material.