After a nine-year, $32 million effort, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has declared the cleanup of the former Kirby's Tire Recycling Inc. scrap tire site completed.
Ohio EPA Director Chris Korleski commemorated the occasion April 15 with a ceremony at the 110-acre site.
Begun in 1950, the Kirby tire pile eventually numbered an estimated 25 million tires, creating a mountain of tires 40 feet high, 200 feet wide and 1,000 feet long.
The state began cleanup of the site on July 1, 1999. Shortly thereafter, on Aug. 21, 1999, four men allegedly set the pile on fire as a practical joke. The resulting blaze destroyed an estimated 6 million tires in five days and created a plume of smoke that could be seen in Columbus, some 60 miles away.
Even after the remaining burning tires were buried, many thousands of tires continued to burn under the ground, according to sources.
The four men-Scott Harer, Michael Schindewolf, Kenneth Stacklin and Brent Young-received prison sentences ranging from 18 months to four years and were ordered to pay millions of dollars in restitution.
In October 2005, meanwhile, a Wyandot County judge fined Doris Kirby, her daughter Rebecca Williams and son-in-law Donald Williams $20 million for violating Ohio's scrap tire and solid waste laws. The judge also held them liable for past and future cleanup costs.
Total costs of the cleanup included more than $13 million for removal of surface tires, almost $11 million to remove the remains of the burned tires and more than $7 million to treat surface water contaminated by the fire's runoff, according to the Ohio EPA.
Fighting the fire alone cost $2.3 million, the agency said.
July 1, 1999: State began cleanup of Kirby Tire pile.
Aug. 21, 1999: The 40 -ft.-by-200-ft.-by-1,000-ft. pile was set on fire, allegedly as part of a joke.
October 2005: Members of Kirby family fined $20 million for violating Ohio scrap tire laws.
April 15, 2008: Ceremony held to mark completion of cleanup.