Journalist, Cherry Park

Author Bio ▼

Cherry Park is an experienced freelance journalist and reporter who specializes in features, news, and news analysis, in print and online. She has written extensively in the areas of health and safety, fire safety, employment, HR, recruitment, rewards, pay and benefits, market research, environment, and metallurgy, and she also conducts research.
January 22, 2014


State of Physical Access Trend Report 2024

Blaze From 15,000 Tonnes of Tyres Visible From Space

A 6,000-ft plume of black smoke from a recycling-plant fire in Yorkshire is so huge it can be seen from space via a NASA satellite.

Around 15,000 tonnes of tyres went up in smoke at the tyre recycling plant in Sherburn-in-Elmet, North Yorkshire, last Thursday. The blaze blanketed the surrounding area, including the city of York, in black smoke and ash, and was visible from much of northern England. Flights at a nearby airfield were grounded.

The cause has not yet been determined.

More than 70 firefighters and 14 fire engines attended the fire. It’s been speculated they may need to be on site for up to a week. North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service (FRS) said it was allowing the fire to burn out under supervision while working to contain it, using water curtains and water from a nearby pond via a high volume pump.

The chemicals from the smoke and ash from burning rubber can irritate the lungs, skin, and eyes, and the fire service advised nearby residents to stay indoors and keep windows and doors shut. Burning rubber also causes an extremely unpleasant smell.

According to the Yorkshire Post, the Environment Agency (EA), has discovered a thin film of oil on a watercourse to the north of the site of the fire and is considering using booms or damming off the surface water outflow to limit the impact of pollution. It added that there are no drinking water abstractions downstream of the affected watercourse.

Watch the video.

2013: A Bad Year for Recycling Plant Fires

The Yorkshire recycling plant fire is yet another in a long string of such fires. IFSEC Global reported last summer on the large number of fires at recycling plants.

The sheer amount of waste stored in these plants waiting to be recycled makes them a target for large blazes that throw out intense heat and smoke, take days or even weeks to be extinguished, and pose a danger to local residents, the fire service, and nearby infrastructure.

Putting water on the top of these fires only makes them smoke more and produces a large amount of sludge, while the fires continue to smoulder underneath.

Since then, the EA, in conjunction with the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA), has issued guidance for operators of waste sites on reducing the risk of fires at waste plants.

The guidance recommends that site operators:

  • Keep sources of ignition at least six metres away from stacks of combustible material
  • Space out stacks at 20 metre intervals
  • Introduce regular maintenance and inspection programmes
  • Set a six-month limit on how long wood and other flammable materials can be stockpiled

The FIREX Academy at FIREX International will provide a forum for industry professionals to learn about the latest developments and identify solutions that can be implemented to prevent fire breaking out and spreading.

Registration for FIREX International is open, for your badge visit:

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Download the Fire Safety in 2023 eBook, keeping you up to date with the biggest news and prosecution stories from around the industry. Chapters include important updates such as the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 and an overview of the new British Standard for the digital management of fire safety information.

Plus, we explore the growing risks of lithium-ion battery fires and hear from experts in disability evacuation and social housing.

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January 24, 2014 7:01 am

It frustrates me that in this country we choose to ignore accepted methods of safely extinguishing tyre fires that are routinely and successfully used in other countries. The environmental and financial cost of this fire is huge, but could be minimised if it was safely extinguished. Look up “Watertown Tire Fire” on google – incident in the US about 7 years ago.  Approx 1 million tyres involved and it was extinguished using a micelle encapsulation agent called F500.  They used less than 2000 gallons of F500 and totally extinguished the fire in 130 hours.  The Wisconsin Fire Journal published an… Read more »

January 27, 2014 9:07 am

As a matter of fact, F-500 is available in the UK since 2008. Unfortunately, as water is free the first line of attack with the Fire Brigades is just water. We contacted North Yorkshire Fire Brigade to offer our services but never got contacted. We know that tyre fires produce PM2 (particular matter) particles plus aromatic polycyclic hydrocarbons (all subject to EU environmental legislation concerning strong concentrations). These are potentially carcinogenic. The World Health Organsiation (WHO) has recently stated that air pollutants do cause cancer.  This is a very recent statement as in the past the word could or may was… Read more »

January 29, 2014 12:58 pm

Yet another recycling plant fire incident. I wonder it would take how many more to awaken the authorities from deep slumber and investigate the causes of fires. It is disturbing that these recycling plants which are supposed to rid the city of filth and waste materials are becoming a potential source of those very problems that they are built to protect people from.

January 29, 2014 12:58 pm

@ alarmconsultant, in case of fire incidents, environmental, financial and life loss should be minimized. Concerned authorities must get up to the task and necessary actions should be taken to prevent such incidents in the place. But when and if such tragedies happen, encapsulation agent you mentioned and other necessary cautions should be used to mitigate the effects.

January 31, 2014 2:22 pm

– what restricted us from extinguishing the fire? Imagine the environmental effects from the burnt tyre, the smoke and toxic chemicals. 

January 31, 2014 2:23 pm

130 hours of blazing fire. I am sure that damage to the environment is sufficient for years of pollution. 

January 31, 2014 2:25 pm
Reply to  FCT

– thanks for explaining the toxic gases and the particular breakdown. First my question is what really caused the fire, and why didn’t they put all the effort to extinguish this. 

January 31, 2014 2:27 pm
Reply to  SunitaT

– these places who deal with these materials needs to be bound by strict regulations on health and safety. Random audits need to be conducted to ensure everything goes smooth. 

January 31, 2014 2:28 pm
Reply to  SunitaT

– I think they need to ensure that this does not happen again, as this is definitely not a natural fire, this fire sure is from negligence.