Tires burn in Public Works fire

Updated August 20, 2019

A call was placed to the Petersburg Fire Department at 7:40 P.M. Monday night after residents reported seeing dark, black smoke coming from the Public Works Department lot on 2nd St.

Flames were coming from a shed that was filled with large, spare tires for the borough’s vehicles. Nearby residents stated they also heard loud popping noises. The fire was contained by about 8 P.M., but firefighters didn’t leave until around 9:30 P.M, said Assistant Fire Chief Dave Berg. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

“We were unsure of what was in that room because of the smoke,” said Berg. “It was determined that there were tires in there, and the explosions that we heard were tires that were bursting. They weren't associated with any kind of flame ball or anything like that that could have indicated that it was a gas of some sort.”

Three fire engines and one ambulance responded to the fire, said Berg. Two of the fire engines were actively fighting the fire, while the third was on standby, but crews from all three engines were being utilized. There were 15 firefighters, two EMS personnel and two assistant fire chiefs on scene.

When the firefighters first arrived, they quickly hooked up to a fire hydrant and began using a deluge gun, which mounts on the fire engine, to attack the fire with a large amount of water. Berg said a second fire engine hooked up to another fire hydrant and also began battling the flames. Two and a half-inch hoses and inch and three-fourth hoses were used by firefighters on foot.

One firefighter was thought to have suffered from smoke inhalation, but Berg said the individual was fine and didn’t have any injuries.

While the fire department and borough insurance company conduct their investigations, the Motor Pool Shop is closed off to staff since it suffered smoke and heat damage, according to Public Works Director Chris Cotta. The Motor Pool Department will be closed for several days until staff is able to reenter the building, assess the damage and gain access to their equipment. The streets crew also operates out of the Motor Pool Shop, but they were able to relocate and continue working.

“We haven't been able to get in there to see what kind of shape it’s in, but I'm sure it sustained some damage,” said Cotta.

At least three borough vehicles were damaged in the fire. Another vehicle, a power and light electricians truck, is in the Motor Pool Shop, and its condition is unknown at this time, said Cotta. Two of the other damaged vehicles were up for replacement this year and the third vehicle is an old street sweeper.

“I think I can safely say that one is destroyed,” said Cotta about the street sweeper. “It didn't really have that much value anyways. It was on reserve status, which means it wasn’t on the replacement schedule.”

Cotta said he is unsure how the storage shed could have caught on fire since there aren’t any electrical outlets in there. He said he’ll have to wait until the fire department completes their investigation for an answer.

No public works employees were at the yard at the time of the fire, said Cotta.


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