Saturday, July 14, 2018

22 years ago: Arson tire dump fire melts I-95 in Philly

Michela Winberg reports for BillyPenn:

A four-alarm fire consumed a junkyard on the border of Kensington and Port Richmond this week, and it was a big one. It took four hours for firefighters to get the blaze under control, and residents saw fireballs shooting into the sky. But chaotic as the scene was on Tuesday night, it wasn’t the first time a scrap fire struck the area — and it certainly wasn’t the most destructive.
Twenty-two years ago, a giant tire fire ravaged a Port Richmond block. The aftermath included prison time and a several-month shutdown of four miles along I-95.
For those who weren’t around back then — and those who remember it all too clearly — here’s a recap of what went down in the Great Tire Fire of 1996.

‘At least’ 10,000 tires stored illegally

On March 13 of that year, a fire erupted on a 500-square-foot lot where a pile of tires was being illegally stored under I-95.
According to the New York Times, which called the incident “suspicious” from the get-go, the blaze then spread to three adjacent buildings owned by the Philadelphia Tire Disposal Company. It burned for five hours, sent up smoke plumes visible for 30 miles, and reached a whopping eight alarms before the 180 firefighters called in managed to bring it under control.
“We know there were at least 10,000 tires there, and that’s a low estimate,” Capt. Henry Dolberry, then-assistant to the Philadelphia Fire Commissioner, told NYT.

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