Tire Fire Makes Tempers Flare

By: Natalie Swaby
By: Natalie Swaby

As dozens of departments rolled in, a tire fire at Watertown's Tire Recycler raged on, concerning nearby residents.

"It started in that corner and it spread and spread. It went through the building," says neighbor Steve Yohn as he pointed out the burned up property.

It ate up lots of tires with more than a million fueling the flames. It sent a big black plume 100 feet high that could be seen from Madison to Milwaukee. The fire came too close for home owner Heather Stienke.

Stienke says, "If the wind changes or the trees catch fire I am out of here."

The fire is also heating up an ongoing battle about this tire recycling site.

Yohn says, "a lot of adjoining landowners have their own attorney."

Nearby resident Cris Folk confirms that saying, "we got together a group of neighbors and we pulled some money together. We got an attorney out of Madison and filed a lawsuit."

They did that in May. They also call themselves "Citizens for a Safer Environment, and their mission was to shut down the tire plant.

Mark Lisitza is apart of the group and says, "it's our worst case scenario. We started this about one thing, fire."

But now their cause has gone up in smoke.

"Were going to have to live with this for weeks, months before all that fire is under control," says nearby resident, Cindy Williams.

NBC 15 made attempts to talk with the owner of the tire plant, but authorities told us he was too busy talking to them. A spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources says they were working with the owner to get the tire recycling center up to compliance.

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