Tyre fire hazard finally burns
A massive pile of tyres, previously flagged as an accident waiting to happen, caught fire in rural North Canterbury on Monday night.
About 500 tyres ignited on a rural property on Racecourse Rd, just north of Amberley. Thick plumes of potentially toxic black smoke could be seen several kilometres away from the blaze.
The fire was on a property belonging to Warren Heslop which contains a large pile of hundreds of thousands of tyres, and made headlines last year. However, Monday’s fire started in a smaller heap of tyres away from the main pile.
The owners of the property, along with the owner of the companies storing the tyres, were issued with council abatement notices in 2016.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) spokesman Andrew Norris said firefighters had allowed the fire to burn down, however yesterday morning it was still burning. The cause was not yet known, Norris said.
The Hurunui District Council turned off the water scheme for users on the Racecourse bore amid concerns of fire debris entering reservoirs and infiltrating ground water. Checks were due to be carried out yesterday afternoon.
A representative for Heslop, Angelique Hyde, last year said the tyres were being stored by businessman Michael Benny Le Roy, who leased the land from Heslop.
The landowners had been misled and had ‘‘shut out’’ Le Roy, cancelling his lease, Hyde said, and there would be ‘‘no more tyres coming in’’.
In March 2016, Le Roy received a High Court injunction stopping him from being involved in tyre recycling until January 2019.
The High Court ruling restrained Le Roy and his companies, Jamison Investments and Tyre Recycling Services New Zealand, ‘‘from having anything to do with tyre recycling or tyre collections . . . within the South Island of New Zealand’’.
In addition, Hurunui District Council had issued Le Roy and the landowners an abatement notice in August 2016. Environment Canterbury was also investigating the matter as an environmental issue.
Last year, Hyde said Le Roy told the landowners his plan was to keep a small amount of tyres on site. A neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said the tyre collection began around the start of 2016.
Firefighters battle a tyre fire on Racecourse Rd, Amberley, on Monday.