How Long Do Tires Burn? (All You Need To Know)

Once car owners are done with their old tires, most people either store them in the garage or take them to a recycling or tire collection center, while others dispose of them in the landfills.

Some of these tires end up in huge fires, some deliberate and others accidental. If there’s a tire fire, how long will they burn? Here’s all you need to know.

How Long Do Tires Burn?

Tires can burn for a day, weeks, and even years, depending on the size and amount of tires. While one passenger tire can burn for a few hours until it runs out of fuel, millions of tires in one location can burn for years and become difficult to extinguish due to the high amount of hydrocarbons that fuel the fire.

For more information about how long tires burn, what determines how long they take, the risks, and how do you put out these fires, read on!

How Long Does Rubber Burn For?

Since tires are made of rubber, they catch fire when they come into contact with a fire source. However, they must be heated to about 400 degrees Celsius (750 degrees Fahrenheit) for several minutes for the ignition to happen.

Typically caused by arson or accidental open fire, tires can burn for as little as a few minutes or hours, but they can also go for years, depending on the circumstances.

When one tire is burning, it can take a few minutes or hours to go off after it runs out of fuel to burn.

However, tires stored or dumped in large quantities are known for burning for a very long time and are very difficult to extinguish. This happens because the tires have a lot of fuel from the hydrocarbons in the material used to make them.

On the contrary, tires can burn quickly if they have plenty of heat and oxygen. Apart from the fuel, the time taken to burn the tires depends on the humidity, wind patterns, and ambient temperature.

What’s The Longest Tire Fire?

Over the years, there has been so many tire fires; some took a lot of time to be put off.

In some instances, tires have burned for more than a decade. For instance, in Heyope, Wales, 10 million tires burned for at least 15 years.

This is one of the longest tires in history, which eventually causes air pollution and diseases to the people living around these areas.

What Is The Danger Of Burning Tires?

What Is The Danger Of Burning Tires?

Burning tires are risky for both the environment and human beings.

For instance, the tire fires that went on for decades cause too much damage because the smoke contains carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, styrene, butadiene, and cyanide.

All these compounds are highly toxic and heavy pollutants. Therefore, if you are exposed to this smoke for an extended period, you will likely develop respiratory problems.

When the additives used to make tires are broken down during a fire, they could also cause health problems such as lung inflammation, cancer, genetic defects, skin ulcerations, renal failure, Alzheimer’s, and neurological problems.

Rubber is the primary raw material in tires; therefore, when the tires are burning, the chemicals produced create poisonous fumes that have damaging health effects for people with other underlying conditions.

While some people experience symptoms immediately after inhaling the smoke, it becomes worse if left untreated for long.

How Can You Put Out Tire Fires?

Tire fires are ranked among the most difficult fires to extinguish, and that’s why they could take months or years to put out.

While we’ve mentioned that it takes a lot of heat for a tire to ignite, it also takes a while to cool off when it does light up.

On some occasions, you could successfully put out a fire in a pile of tires, but there’s a high likelihood that it’s still burning on the inside.

If the tires are only a handful, you can use sand to cut off the oxygen supply. However, this method might not work for a pile of tires.

Most of these fires are put out by firefighters. They can use foam which seals off the oxygen from the tires and prevents it from reigniting. Additionally, they also use specialty extinguishing agents to ensure the fire goes off completely.

However, in some cases, even these agents can fail if the tire pile is too big, which causes the fire to burn for years.

How Can You Prevent Tires From Burning?

How Can You Prevent Tires From Burning?

Tire fires are caused by arsonists, while others could be accidental.

To prevent the occurrence of these fires, there are regulations on the storage of tires and storage time permitted at these sites.

Additionally, most states and countries have laws in place against the burning of tires due to environmental pollution and the risk of diseases.

Therefore, next time you think of burning a tire as a means of disposal, keep in mind that it could expose people and the environment to many illegal problems.

If you want to know more, you can also see our posts if burnouts ruin tires, how are tires recycled, and why are tires made of rubber.

Conclusion

Tires can burn for short periods or years, depending on the circumstances. While one tire might go off in a short time, a pile of tires in a storage site can burn for days or weeks.

Once a tire gets ignited, it takes so much time for the fire to get extinguished. In addition, the chemicals used to make the tire are released into the environment, causing pollution and illnesses.

Tire fires have been a problem worldwide for years; therefore, you can help prevent such problems by disposing of your tires in the right way, like a recycling center.

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