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April 24, 2014

Tire facility catches fire

Blaze at Hwy 472 property considered suspicious

CORBIN — By Becky Killian / Editor

Six fire departments battled a stubborn blaze Wednesday at a Laurel County tire recycling facility.

The fire sent a black plume of smoke into the air that could be seen for miles.

Since there’s no electrical service to the property, which is located along Hwy. 472, and there was no grass fire that could have spread to the tires, the blaze is considered suspicious, according to Laurel County Emergency Management Director Albert Hale.

The fire was reported before 1 p.m. and Hale said he was the first responder to arrive. He used bolt cutters to remove a lock from a gate that blocked access to the property. He estimated more than a hundred tires were on fire at that time.

The huge tires stored at the site are the sort used on large earth moving equipment utilized at mines. The tires were stacked six to eight deep, Hale said.

Laurel County Fire Department responded and called for backup. That department was assisted by Bush, Campground, East Bernstadt, London and Crossroads fire departments.

Police blocked traffic along the highway as water tankers arrived and then left to get more water.  

An excavator was used to lift the tires from the stacks as firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze.

Booms, pads and bales of straw were used to help contain some of the runoff from the fire fight since the polluted water could pose a threat to area waterways.

The chief of the Campground department was transported to the hospital after he reported difficulty breathing.

As of about 5 p.m., Hale said the fire was considered to be extinguished, although fire equipment and firefighters remained at the site in case a rekindle occurred.

An investigator from the Kentucky Fire Marshal’s office was on scene late Wednesday and an arson investigator had been requested from the Kentucky State Police London Post, Hale said.

Other agencies assisting included the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office, London City Police, and environmental response teams from the Kentucky divisions of water and air quality.

Hale said the property is leased by the recycling company from the owners of Benge Farm Supply.

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