Was heat to blame for Harlingen tire fire?

Harlingen firefighters dug through burned tires Tuesday, trying to determine what sparked a fire at the Tire Recycling and Processing center, located off Grimes Road in Harlingen.

The fire started Monday at about 6 p.m.

Harlingen Fire Marshal Danny Warner said it was two trailers packed with hundreds of tires, and a third trailer full of shredded tire materials that caught fire.

"We're still extinguishing hot spots and removing a lot of the burnt debris," Warner said. At best it will be several hours and we may actually be here through tomorrow. There were several representatives from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that have already been on the scene."

Firefighters dug through tons of burned tires and shredded rubber with whatever equipment they have or by hand, looking for clues.

Warner said tire fires are some of the most challenging to put out

"Tire fires are notoriously hard to put out just because of their chemical composition, especially when they're shredded like this, Warner said. The surface area has been increased, and it takes a lot to get the water to penetrate that material before we can extinguish the fire."

No obvious safety violations were apparent, Warner said, and the distance between the trailers and the building saved the entire facility from going up in flames.

The fire marshal added that the fire could've been the work of the South Texas heat.

"Under the right conditions this or any organic material can self-heat, Warner said. Yesterday, it was rather warm plus there was some elevated humidity levels and we're looking at that as a possible heat source."