FIREFIGHTERS have been tackling smouldering tyres which could cause an environmental nightmare costing tens of thousands of pounds.
The Environment Agency said tyres release acrid smoke as they burn and could contaminate land and water supplies leading to a massive clean-up bill if not dealt with properly.
Crews from Dewsbury Fire Station have been making regular visits to Lock Street, in Savile Town, since a member of the public saw smoke rising there over a week ago. When firefighters investigated, they found burning tyres buried underground. Initial reports suggested there were between 3,000 and 5,000 tyres, but this could not be confirmed.
Yesterday firefighters started digging up the tyres under the supervision of the Environment Agency.
Tim Selway from the Environment Agency said burning tyres could produce a viscous, tar-like material.
He said: “As a precautionary measure, we have taken the decision to dig the tyres out and then the fire service will damp them down in sections.
“As the firewater will be contaminated, this will also be collected to prevent it getting into any drainage. The contaminated material will then be taken away and disposed of at a specialist site.”
Dewsbury Fire Station watch commander Richard Carr said the operation could last two to three days.
He said crews had been working in four hour shifts to keep an eye on the tyres since Wednesday December 7. Watch commander Carr said: “The tyres are made of rubber so just burying them will not work.
“They have got oil in them so they will continue to burn underground. A JCB is there digging them out and we are there with a pump damping them down so the cost of the clean-up will add up.”