Europe’s biggest rubber mountain is burning down

Published:  13 May, 2016

A fire that started a week ago in Europe’s biggest tyre waste site spread to around 80% of the facility’s 114,000m2 within a matter of hours.

The fire started around 0200 on Friday 13 May in the Seseña site, which sits between the autonomous communities of Madrid and Castilla-La Mancha, and which contains around 100,000 tonnes of pneumatic tyres.

According to local reports, emergency responders installed fire breaks to save around 30,000m2 of the site.

Over 40 firefighters, two helicopters, a plane and pumps were deployed within 24 hours, and local authorities requested the use of two hydroplanes to pour foam on the 20m-high flames and toxic cloud. The fire is expected to take at least another week to fall under control.

The main R4 highway, which passes through the municipality of Seseña – where three quarters of the site is based – was shut down in both directions as a result of damage by the fire to electrical cables.

From the very beginning of the incident the Guardia Civil believed that the fire had been intentional, due to recent weather ruling out an accidental fire. Recently revealed CCTV footage is confirming this suspicion.

As a result of the smoke three schools in Seseña have been closed and local police have recommended local inhabitants stay indoors and close all windows in order to minimise smoke inhalation.

The site is one of around 15 waste sites for rubber tyres in Spain and is the largest in Europe. Although the site was initially located within the jurisdiction of the Castilla-La Mancha autonomous community, over the years it grew so large that it crept into Madrid’s jurisdiction.

The site has been criticised since the late 90s when mountains of tyres started to become visible from a distance. In 2009 a judge closed the site after declaring it was operating illegally without a licence. It was not until 2013 that a recycling licence was sought by the owner.

Eight months ago the local governments of both provinces issued an ultimatum to the owner to clean the site and recycle the tyres due to the threat to the local population.

  • Operation Florian

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