Landowner may face charges for San Benito tire fire

Ten fire departments from as far away as McAllen pitched-in to fight a fire burning in Cameron County near FM 800, just outside San Benito.

Emergency responders said the blaze started Monday evening, from a pile of nearly 2,000 dumped tires.

Cameron County Emergency Management Coordinator Humberto Barrera said they're working as fast as possible to extinguish the fire and minimize health hazards.

Any fire is hazardous, Barrera said. Now, when you add smoke, tires, rubber and chemicals, it becomes toxic. That's what we're dealing with right now. there's no property that's worth injury to a firefighter."

Barrera said the fire has burned more than 15 acres, and the plan was to let it burn out on its own.

However, the Texas Environmental Quality Commission stepped-in, and demanded the fire be put-out as soon as possible.

Barrera said the fire is 80 percent contained, but with the thick smoke engulfing the area, things are have been complicated.

"Do we send firefighters back into that plume of smoke? Barrera asked. Or do we devise a different plan of action, so that we can safeguard our firefighters?" There's no property that's worth injury to a firefighter."

A criminal investigation is underway also.

Investigators questioned the landowner to find out why there were so many tires were on his property.

"Part of the investigation is also going to include how many people knew about this and how long has this been going on, Barrera said. We did a Google search, and the search showed us that there's thousands and thousands of tires there.

Barrera said the man could face charges.

"No arrests yet but, we are going to have to confer with the district attorney's office and let them know what's going on, so that we do take the proper steps to holding someone liable for this - what I would call a disaster," Barrera said.

RAW VIDEO: San Benito Tire Fire