Large Dayton tire fire prompts city legal review; residents push for crackdown

Old North Dayton leaders say there are other tire piles like the one that burned Monday, creating a column of toxic smoke; city studies enforcement options

A large tire fire in Old North Dayton this week has sparked calls for state action or new laws to try to prevent people from stockpiling scrap tires or help intervene when they do.

“Something needs to happen to get rid of these tires,” said Jennifer Evans, an Old North Dayton resident who lives near the fire site and who used to co-own Evans Bakery. “There needs to be some consolidated way to report these issues and to have them addressed.”

More than 12 million scrap tires are generated in Ohio every year, and some end up in stockpiles or illegal dumps around the state, says the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Scrap tires that catch on fire can create dangerous blazes that are difficult to extinguish and that produce toxic smoke and oils, the Ohio EPA says.

“When consumed by fire, tires break down into an oily substance that can lead to runoff concerns, in addition to the obvious hazards of heat and toxic smoke,” said Brad French, assistant chief of the Dayton Fire Department.

The man whose garage and tires caught fire Monday said he was in the processing of getting them removed. Neighbors say this nuisance should have been taken care of years ago.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

On Monday afternoon, fire crews responded to the 1400 block of Leonhard Street in Old North Dayton on a report of a tire fire.

The blaze produced a huge plume of black smoke visible for miles and damaged multiple nearby properties, including several garages.

The Dayton fire department got the fire under control in about an hour. But a cleanup of the site is ongoing and a bunch of tires remain. Neighbors said the tires were stacked in piles about six feet high.

Matt Tepper, president of the Old North Dayton Neighborhood Association, has asked the city complete a review of what went wrong that led to the tire fire and what could be done in the future to prevent similar issues in all parts of the city.

“Much of the circumstances around the fire could have been prevented,” he said.

Evans, who lives a couple of blocks from the fire site, said the city and the neighborhood have been aware of the tire stockpile on Leonhard Street for a long time.

She said there are other tire piles in Old North Dayton, including at a commercial property that is less than a mile and a half away.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

Darryl Moore said he used to operate an auto shop in a garage behind his home on the 1400 block of Leonhard Street. His garage and property caught fire.

Moore said his business closed down a couple of years ago, but he still had a significant number of tires.

Moore said he was working to remove the tires and he was probably weeks away from having them hauled off and properly disposed of. Moore said he was having to pay hundreds of dollars every month in fines because of the tires and the state of the property.

“It was to my benefit to get rid of them and I’ve been working to get rid of them,” he said.

Moore said other people were dumping tires on his property and in the alley behind his home and garage. He said video footage suggests a couple of teens started the fire.

Moore said he lost about $250,000 in equipment, tools and electronics in the blaze. He said those items were not insured.

Moore said the tires should be removed and the fire site should be cleaned up within the next 60 days. Moore says he’ll end up getting a bill for that work.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

John Usas owns the home next to Moore’s house. Usas’ garage was destroyed, and he said the fire caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

Usas said he and his tenant for years have lodged complaints with the city about the tires and the condition of the property next door. Usas said water got inside the tires, which led to terrible mosquito problems.

“I’ve been complaining four or five years, but I get tired of calling,” he said. “It’s been horrible.”

Usas said he does not believe Moore was making any meaningful progress to remove the tires.

Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein said tire piles are a source of blight that pose a significant risk to the community, the environment and first-responders.

Dickstein said she’s already asked city staff to review the incident on Leonhard Street.

She also wants a legal analysis and directed staff to produce an inventory of similar kinds of tire piles across the city.

The city has been aware of this tire pile since June 2021, and the property owner has been cited and contacted by staff numerous times to try to get the tires properly disposed of, Dickstein said.

Credit: Josh Sweigart

Credit: Josh Sweigart

But the city does not have the authority to venture onto private property and seize personal property, she said.

Dickstein said a legal analysis is important to figure out if the best way to address this problem is through new state law or by getting state agencies to intervene.

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