WATERTOWN - A tire fire that sent black smoke billowing in a plume visible across southeastern Wisconsin posed new threats Wednesday, as changing weather kept fumes closer to the ground where more
people could be affected.
Lt. Doug Ninmann of the Dodge County Sheriff's Department said the high pressure system that sent the smoke aloft after the fire broke out Tuesday was giving way to low pressurewhich could mean problems for residents as the fire burns on.
About six acres of Watertown Tire Recycling Co.'s estimated one million tires were in flames Tuesday night, a smoldering mound expected to take days to burn itself out.
"Several days is being optimistic," said Jennifer Warmke, emergency management deputy director for Dodge County.
"It's going to be a long haul before this fire is out," she said.
No one was injured, and the cause of the blaze had not been determined. Tanker trucks from 44 fire departments have hauled water from Watertown to spray on the fire. More than 125 firefighters fought the blaze, which was contained by early afternoon.
The plant sits northwest of Watertown on Provimi Road in the town of Shields.
Ninmann said the streams of water worked to slow the fire and reduce the smoke somewhat.
"They've got everything contained," he said. "They're just pouring water on it to keep it contained."
Ninmann said an inspector from the state Department of Natural Resources was at the plant for an on-site inspection with owner Thomas Springer when the fire started.
The plant grinds tires into chips and processes them into materials for other uses, such as road-paving or fuel.