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The Cause of Spain's Massive Tire Fire Is a Risk Everywhere

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Millions of tires are on fire in Spain in a dump not-so-affectionately called the tire cemetery. Residents have been evacuated, and teams of firefighters have worked to contain the blaze officials believe was intentionally set.

And that's what makes the scenes about 20 miles from Madrid, Spain, especially horrifying. Arson is a risk everywhere. The fire in Spain is at a tire dump spanning 27 acres, according to the Associated Press.

"The fire in Spain identified a pile with roughly 11 million tires," says Roy Littlefield IV, director of government affairs for the Tire Industry Association (TIA.) "We do not have abandoned sites with that many tires today, however, there are sites with several thousands of tires that can be a potential fire if they were exposed to arson."

Littlefield says most states have cleaned up their scrap tire stockpiles and abandoned scrap tire sites, "using the revenue generated from the scrap tire fund associated with new tire sales. There are a number of states, however, where ilegal piles have been identified and are targeted for clean up as the funding becomes available.

"Unfortunately, state budget cuts and the reallocation of the tire fund money has created many challenges in recent years for the state environmental departments. Many of these cleanup activities have been put on hold due to a lack of funds.

"When abandoned scrap tire piles were identified as a major problem years ago, most states enacted rules and regulations requiring the proper management of the tires as they are generated. This has prevented large tire pile accumulations.

"Unforunately, there is still an illegal element that removes tires from generator sites to obtain the used tires. The tires they cannot sell get abandoned. The rules and regs have reduced the piles from becoming too large, but they have not prevented smaller accumulations from occurring."

Littlefield says states are creating a risk by not continuing the funding and focusing on cleanup efforts.

"They are exposing their state to an increase in illegal activities that could once again lead to large abandoned scrap tire piles."

Review TIA's scrap tire best practices here.

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