Tire fire property owner has history with TCEQ

Fire crews shut down the site of a large tire fire outside San Benito Wednesday night.

It TMs consider it extinguished, but a criminal investigation is just beginning.

Small flames licked what was left of the charred junkyard Wednesday.

A collection of tires is believed to have boosted the blaze that firefighters fought for three days.

According to neighbors, the tire collector is the property owner.

"It used to be just a little stuff here first, then all of a sudden the whole terrain was covered with tires, said neighbor Abel Suarez.

To stockpile tires, you must have state permission.

According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, property owner Bobby Waldrep did not.

His first violation dates back to 2002.

"There has been an investigation before, and there were violations documented, said TCEQ representative Jaime Garza.

The TCEQ will now determine how much money the alleged tire hoarder should pay for collecting tires without permission.

Tires aren't the only items Waldrep appeared to have piled up.

Bikes, a washing machine, old cars and two burned buses can be found on the property.

"There are several violations here, said Cameron County Emergency Management Coordinator Humberto Barrera.

Cameron County wants more than just a tire fine.

"There are a lot of people very upset, said Barrera. We're definitely going to sit down with the District Attorney's office and see if we can pursue this criminally."

Costs to local fire departments are expected to be deep.

The San Benito Fire Department estimates it spent $10,000 battling the blaze.

Costs to neighbors, forced to breathe toxic fumes, could be long-term.

Officials warn the community cannot afford another blaze like this.

Property owner Bobby Waldrep denied any wrong doing.

According to authorities, Waldrep claimed people dumped on his property while he was away.

Waldrep is in his 80s.

Authorities said he has no phone and has not kept in contact with authorities like he said he would.

Authorities are asking anyone who knows of Waldrep TMs whereabouts to call (956) 547-7000.