EPA expected to take over tire fire

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to take control of a fire that continues to burn thousands of tires in West Odessa.

The fire was called in at about 3 p.m. Sunday in the 2700 block of Buckskin Road. West Odessa Volunteer Fire Chief Jimmy Ellis said the EPA is expected to bring in special crews today to help get the fire knocked down.

“It’s still burning. It was way beyond our means to put it out last night,” Ellis said Monday.

The caliche pit full of tires is located on private property and Ellis said they do not yet know what caused it.

“We haven’t even been able to get down in the pit where it started because it’s so hot you can’t get down in that pit. The rubber just stays hot and it will adhere to your boots and the bunker gear,” he said.

Ellis said he did not have an estimate on the number of tires that burned in the pit, but “it was a bunch.” Numerous media outlets reported it was more than 100,000 tires.

“One of the worst things about this fire is there’s no water to attack it with. We’re about four miles from the nearest fire hydrant,” Ellis said. By the time firefighters would use all of the water with them, go get more and return to continue fighting the fire, the fire would already have gained more momentum.

“It’s just frustrating because as firemen, we’re all trained to go get it and there’s nothing we can do with it right now,” Ellis said.

The Ector County streets and highway department helped build a fire break around the pit so if the wind picked up or changed direction, firefighters would be able to contain it, he said. Fire trucks have been on scene around the clock since the fire was dispatched Sunday. Ellis said Ector County environmental staff and the Environmental Protection Agency have been on scene, as well.

“The EPA came in town this morning, but we’re not going to be able to do anything til they’re ready to do it,” Ellis said.

As of Monday afternoon, Ellis said he believed all the roads closed due to the fire were still closed and may remain closed until the fire is extinguished. Motorists are advised to stay away from the area.

Roads closures included the following:

>>Southbound FM866 at 29th Street (no one south of this location)

>>Northbound FM866 at an unnumbered ranch/lease rd about 1 mile south of FM2020 (no one will be allowed north of this location)

>>Westbound FM2020 at Comanche Road (no one west of this location)

>>Westbound FM2020 at Fortune 500 Drive (no one west of this location)

>>Southbound Buckskin Road at 29th Street (no one south of this location, off system closure)

Any residents affected by the smoke were advised to close all windows, doors, fire place dampers and exterior vents and, if necessary, use towels, plastic sheeting or duct tape to seal cracks around doors, windows and vents. Anyone in need of emergency medical attention should call 911.

Responding departments included West Odessa Volunteer, South Ector County Volunteer, Odessa Fire Rescue and Goldsmith.