On July 19, 2005, a tirefire broke out at the Watertown Tire and Recycling facility which is on the northwest side of Watertown, Wisconsin in the town of Shields. The fire spread rapidly and everyone got out of harms way and no injuries were reported. The fire engulfed the main building and the large tire stockpile in the rear of the facility. Actions taken by operators on site were able to establish a fire break for the chipped tires in the front of the building. The fire was reported to be out on Monday, July 25, 2005. There were several explosions on site from fuel tanks located within the building. Roads were blocked off and the Dodge County Health Deptartment asked residents in the vicinity of the fire to close doors and windows and stay indoors. No evacuations order was made. The plume of smoke extended at least 93 miles to the southeast, stretching across Milwaukee and over central Lake Michigan. More than 637 square miles were covered by the plume, including 290 miles of Lake Michigan.
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Staff from Wisconsin DNR reported that in November that the tire count was 2 1/2 times the volume allowed by the license (200,000 tire equivalents). The DNR estimated the number of tires involved was over 400,000 tires.
On July 20, 2005, Wisconsin DNR requested U.S. EPA’s assistance in providing air monitoring at the fire. U.S. EPA On-Scene Coordinator Mitchell, the Superfund Technical Assistance and Response Team (START), and U.S. EPA’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) mobilized to the site to provide air monitoring assistance.