Is smoke from tires carcinogenic?

Burning tire dump: Poisonous smoke drives out neighbors in Spain

Madrid - A fire in Spain's largest car tire dump has caused a huge, poisonous cloud of smoke to rise into the sky outside the gates of Madrid. A settlement in the small town of Sesena south of the capital was evacuated on Friday as a precaution. The residents of other localities were asked not to leave their homes and to keep doors and windows closed.

The authorities triggered a disaster alert, but on a low alert. As the government of the Castile-La Mancha region in Toledo announced, around 1,000 people had to leave their homes in Sesena. The evacuation had been ordered in the event that the poisonous cloud of smoke would be driven into the settlement after a change in the wind direction. A large part of the residents have voluntarily left the affected district beforehand.

The military supported the fire brigade with tanker planes that dropped large amounts of water from the air. Environmental expert Joan Grimalt from the state research institute CSIC warned that the smoke was "very harmful to health" and contained "highly carcinogenic substances". The environmental authorities continuously checked the air quality in the area. A motorway was closed.

The landfill near Sesena covers an area of ​​around 20 football fields. According to information from the Efe news agency, around five million car tires weighing 100,000 tons are stored there. According to Spanish media reports, it is said to be the largest landfill of its kind in Europe. It had been declared illegal by the judiciary for violations of environmental protection more than a decade ago. However, the responsible governments in the regions of Madrid and Castile-La Mancha have not yet been able to agree on removing the mountains of tires.

According to the newspaper "El Pais", the EU Commission recently requested information about the landfill in Spain. The operator of the tire dump went into hiding. The regional government in Toledo announced that he had been fined a total of 600,000 euros for continuing to deposit tires there despite a ban.

The fire broke out on Friday night. Flames up to 20 meters high shot up. The huge, black cloud of smoke could be seen as far as Madrid. The smoke also made it difficult for helicopters and fire-fighting planes to work.

The fire brigade initially concentrated on preventing the flames from spreading further. By the afternoon it was possible to limit the fire to part of the landfill. The government of Castile-La Mancha said it could take a week before the fire is completely extinguished.

The fire was believed to have been started by arsonists. "The fire had started at the far end of the landfill," said the mayor of Sesena, Carlos Velázquez, the radio station Cadena SER. Large parts of this town with a population of 21,000, located between Madrid and Toledo, had only emerged from the ground during the building boom of the previous decade. (APA, May 13, 2016)