Vegas race tire barriers catch on fire UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I smell a rat. Tires sitting by themselves not near anything catch on fire all by themselves? I think not. I suspect ISC hired some goons to set the tires ablaze because they tried to stop the race in Phoenix and lost in court and the tires were slated to be moved to Phoenix for the Champ Car street race. I wouldn't put anything past that lot of characters. Elijah Cohen
06/21/07 Investigators and environmental experts will be in downtown Las Vegas today inspecting the aftermath of a massive tire fire. Hundreds of tires, leftovers from the Las Vegas Grand Prix in March, when crews used the bundled tires to line the downtown track, caught fire Wednesday afternoon, filling the sky with thick black smoke. Firefighters say this blaze was a dangerous one to fight because of the numerous chemicals used to make rubber. They expect the smell of burnt rubber to last a while. Another black mark for the race - why were the tires left there? Photos and video
No injuries were reported, Szymanski said. The cause of the blaze was under investigation, and damage estimates were unavailable late Wednesday.
The plan Wednesday night was to use a backhoe to spread out the tires, and fire crews were expected to remain on the scene into the night to try to prevent a flare-up, he said.
With fire investigators, the Clark County Health District will be looking into any environmental impact from the melted rubber, Szymanski said. The costs of dealing with any environmental damage will be billed to the owners of the tires, he said.
When tires burn, they break down into hazardous compounds that include carcinogens, heavy metals and oil. The average passenger car tire produces more than two gallons of oil when burned, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Las Vegas Rescue Mission, across Bonanza from the blaze, was not affected by the fire, said Dana Saunders, a desk clerk at the mission. No evacuations were ordered, but neighborhood residents were urged to stay indoors as a precaution, officials said.
City spokesman David Riggleman said the city allowed the Vegas Grand Prix to store the tires, gates and concrete barriers on the lot free of charge at first because it wanted to give the organization a "foot up."
But, Riggleman said, the city was to meet with race organizers next week to discuss a storage fee, among other issues.
The race organizers have been using the lot for storage since about late February or early March, Riggleman said.
He said the fire department issued the Vegas Grand Prix permits to store the tires at the lot, and the organization met all of the storage requirements. The tires must be stacked properly and not be close to any structures, he said.
The permitting process took place over several weeks before the Vegas Grand Prix was held, but Riggleman did not know when the permits were issued.
Jana Watt, spokeswoman for the Vegas Grand Prix, said the organization was in the process of moving the tires and barriers to Phoenix for the Grand Prix Arizona, set for Dec. 2. Las Vegas Review Journal