Tire Fire at Warehouse Forces W. Va. Residents Indoors

A fire on Thursday raced through a warehouse where tens of thousands of old tires were stored, forcing nearly a third of the town to stay indoors with windows and doors shut to avoid the polluted air.

About 2,000 people were kept indoors as at least fire departments from two counties fought the blaze. An estimated 40,000 to 50,000 old tires were burning. Black smoke was visible 12 miles away in Charleston. No injuries were reported.

"The heat is very intense so we can't get in there with equipment to separate the tires," said Jessica Greathouse, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Water used to fight the fire rose to nearly waist-deep at the scene and pumps were brought in to drain it into the Kanawha River. Greathouse said her agency dispatched boats with booms to the river to contain pollutants.

U.S. Tire Recovery, which owns the tires stored in the warehouse, had missed a deadline to remove them, the DEP said. The company processes waste tires.

There was no telephone listing for U.S. Tire Recovery in the Kanawha Valley.

It was not immediately clear who owned the building.