A tire fire this big is an environmental disaster. It won’t just pollute the air with hazardous materials — it will create a small oil spill as well. Burning just one passenger car tire can produce two gallons of oil, according to the EPA, and 5 million tires could spill about 275,000 gallons of oil on the ground.
To get a sense of how nasty these things are, check out this video of a 1954 tire fire in Toronto:
In the U.S. some states actually burn scrap tires for fuel, but it’s also possible to recycle them. The worst thing to do with a whole bunch of used tires is pile them up and hope they don’t catch fire. That’s a lesson Kuwait is learning the hard way.
Fire in Kuwait, NASA Earth Observatory.
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