Firefighters are working to keep a massive tire fire from spreading to the National Forest.
Eighty-thousand tons of tires are burning at a tire storage area near Cuba. The fire is creating an enormous plume of black smoke.
Firefighters say putting out a fire like this is tough. The options — smothering it with dirt, or pulling it apart with heavy equipment.
They say it’s also possible they might have to let it burn itself out. That could take days.
They say putting water on it can cause a hazard because of chemical runoff.
The Las Cruces Fire Department loaned Sandoval County 75 gallons of firefighting foam to help control the fire. Fire officials say the specialized foam is not available anywhere else in the state including Albuquerque.
The Department of Health advises all residents near the tire fire to avoid smoke exposure, if possible. Health officials say smoke from tire fires contains a number of a toxic air contaminants and particulate matter.
Symptoms of smoke exposure:
Symptoms of smoke exposure usually include irritation of eyes, nose and throat or breathing discomfort. More severe symptoms may include chest tightness, wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing. Smoke exposure can aggravate conditions such as asthma, chronic lung disease, or cardiovascular disease. Other populations at-risk for health impacts include those aged 65 years and older, pregnant women, and young children. However, all residents near the tire fire should avoid smoke exposure, if possible.
An air quality monitor measuring PM2.5 (particulate matter less than 2.5 microns) is being installed in Cuba. Monitoring data will be accessible here once it is made available. Note that this type of monitor provides a general indicator of overall air quality, and should not be assumed to be providing information about toxic contaminants.