The Department of Environmental Protection said Tuesday that an untold number of waste tires continue to burn and flames have spread inside an “abandoned mine opening” on Big Mountain in Northumberland County.
Employees of the department’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation is monitoring the fire and “working with the appropriate parties to determine the best way to abate the fire,” according to a response provided by Megan Lehman, environmental community relations specialist, Williamsport.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, according to the statement.
“The fire is down inside a narrow, abandoned mine opening, so visibility is very poor. Based on available information, it appears that the fire is predominantly consuming waste tires at this time. The smell and appearance of the smoke is consistent with that of burning rubber, and DEP has received reports of long-term dumping of car and truck tires at the site,” the statement reads.
“DEP intends to be actively involved with the site until we believe the fire is extinguished,” the statement reads.
The fire scene is located in the hills immediately south of Trevorton, Zerbe Township, off of Gap and Shingara roads. Northumberland County 911 dispatchers directed first responders to the scene about 6:15 p.m. Saturday. The report was that potentially thousands of old tires caught fire and flames spread into the mine.
Dozens of units responded. Smoke could be seen rising from the mountaintop during daylight hours. At night, flashing lights from emergency apparatus at the top of Big Mountain, near a cross, were plainly visible from the top of Little Mountain, north of Trevorton, along Route 890. The scene was active until at least 11 p.m.
“Local first responders applied approximately 200,000 gallons of water to the fire over the weekend and planned to apply an additional 5,000 gallons of water last night,” according to the DEP statement.
Steven Jeffery, Northumberland County Emergency Management director, gave a similar account late Saturday. State inspectors were to visit Monday, he said.
The land is owned by the Northumberland County Commissioners and is leased by the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area, according to DEP.