Thousands evacuated as tyres burn

Local mayor believes blaze at Europe's biggest tyre dump was arson

Firefighters observe the flames from the edge of the massive tyre dump Photo EPA

By Dave Jamieson

A fire that forced over 6,000 people to leave their homes last Friday is thought to have been started deliberately.

The alarm was raised at around 1am by two petrol station workers and fire crews were despatched to a burning tyre dump in Seseña, a municipality of 21,000 residents, 36 kilometres south of Madrid in the province of Toledo.

The town is home to Europe’s biggest dump of used vehicle tyres and it is estimated that the fire has consumed almost three-quarters of the 11 hectares occupied by the site. The five million tyres which have been destroyed sent up thick clouds of toxic black smoke as they burned, forcing the authorities to declare a Level 2 emergency.

Fire crews struggled throughout Friday to control the blaze and were supported by two aircraft from the Torrejón air base, each of which dumped 5,500 litres of water onto the flames.

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