Massive Tire Fire Darkens Skies Over Madrid
Tire fires are incredibly dangerous things, with the fire releasing the chemical additives in a greasy, thick smoke that can cause anything from throat irritation to central nervous system damage to cancer. In addition to the dangerous smoke, burning tires are incredibly difficult to extinguish—they have been known to continue burning for months or years, with the tires continuing to burn when extinguished from the outside, and reigniting easily.
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So, it is incredibly troubling that a huge pillar of toxic smoke rose above Madrid on Friday, as a fire raged in a tire dump 28 mies south of the city, near the city of Sesena. As firefighters and water-dropping helicopters battled the blaze, city officials said that the disaster was likely intentional.
“Everything points to the fact that this disaster was deliberate,” said Sesena Mayor Carlos Velazquez. Tire fires are difficult to start in any case—fires are sometimes started by lightning strikes, but otherwise require a lot of work to light—but in the case of this fire, the area had just been hit by several days of rain, further lessening the possibility of this being an accident. Authorities in the area have already evacuated much of the population of a nearby residential area, as the fire has spread across the 25-acre dump site.
The fire could last for several days as the firefighters scramble to put it out.