Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Witness to Hoopeston tire fire calls experience "bizarre" (photos)

Last week, I wrote about a massive tire fire that burned in the small town of Hoopeston, Ill. In my post, I argued that citizen-based sensor journalism could have helped the community understand the local environmental impact of this man-made disaster.

I've sent an email to the IEPA requesting that the agency release the data they collected after the fire. In the meantime, we can assume from scientific studies that the tire fire released pollutants, toxins, cancer-causing chemicals, and even mutagens which can affect genetics thorough generations.

After publishing my post, I received a tweet from a follower who was at the scene. Dan Johnson, a fellow Urbana, Ill. resident, just received a new camera and thought the Hoopeston tire fire would be an opportunity to try it out. He was shocked by what he saw.

"The debris littered yards and streets upwind of the fire. Entire neighborhoods were blocked off to traffic," he wrote in an email. "The amount of smoke in the air was a good enough reason not to want to go through those areas."

The fire could be seen from miles away. Bits of burned tires littered the streets. Johnson called it "sort of eerie."

"It reminded me of photos from Centralia, Pennsylvania, where everything's been abandoned because of a coal mine fire."

I'll have an update when I obtain information from the IEPA on the fire. Photos posted here were obtained from Johnson's Flickr account.