Tyre fires can be severe, particularly in large cases like this. They burn at very high temperatures, have a large surface area ensuring a good supply of oxygen and can ignite other nearby stacks of tyres. Coarse water spray rebounds and does not cool the fire, increasing hazardous run-off. A fine spray is more effective at cooling, but still increases run-off and will bring the plume lower to the ground. Foam is the most effective but can only be available in limited quantities. Dry chemical, earth and sand are also effective, but the fire can smoulder under the surface for several weeks.
Tom Johnson is an emergency responder at the National Chemical Emergency Centre