WEST LEBANON — Firefighters from across three counties were called late Saturday afternoon to battle a fire that was fed by a pile of hundreds of tires and a bony pile of coal, not far from the Indiana-Armstrong county line.
It happened around 5 p.m. at 801 Taylor Road, north of West Lebanon in Young Township, and caused smoke to be seen 10 miles away in Spring Church and downtown Indiana.
At 5:02 p.m. Iselin-West Lebanon and Coal Run-McIntyre volunteers were dispatched for the initial report of tires on fire.
“There were at least 1,200 tires that were on fire,” said Bryan Palmer, officer in charge for Iselin/West Lebanon Volunteer Fire Company and a fire warden for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
“Upon our arrival we initiated an attack on the fire and came to the conclusion that we needed additional tankers,” Palmer said.
Those multiple tankers came from Indiana, Armstrong and Westmoreland counties, sent along a one-lane road off Montgomery Hill Road, four miles from Route 56.
Palmer said Elderton District, Apollo No. 3, Creekside, Aultman, Blairsville, Tunnelton-Conemaugh Township, Kiski Township, Saltsburg, Slickville, Washington Township (Westmoreland County) and Sardis volunteer firefighters were called, along with Murrysville’s 610 Rehab unit, Citizens’ Ambulance, and a foam truck from Greensburg’s fire department.
In addition, Coal Run/McIntyre Fire Chief Rick Hooks said, “(Young) Township sent an excavator over.”
The last stand-by dispatch made by Indiana County Emergency Management Agency was around 6:30 p.m. for New Alexandria volunteers to head for the Tunnelton fire station in Conemaugh Township.
“Say a prayer for the men and women fighting this fire,” Coal Run/McIntyre Volunteer Fire Department posted on Facebook around 6 p.m.
Hooks said crews were mopping up at the scene around 8:30 p.m. Palmer said his company went home at 10 p.m.
“(The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection) has been notified,” Palmer said.
DEP will investigate to determine if any citations should be issued.
In a fact sheet, DEP said residents are encouraged to recycle as much of their waste as possible or to use a commercial hauler to dispose of their trash.
“The practice of burning household waste is legal under (state) Air Quality regulations,” DEP said, but there are exceptions that cannot be burned, including tires.