Canton fire deemed suspicious
The Haywood County Fire Marshal is investigating a suspicious fire that occurred at a tire and truck repair shop in Canton Sunday evening.
Johnny Pless, fire chief at Center Pigeon Fire Department, said passersby called 9-1-1 to report the large fire at Mike's Truck and Trailer Repair on the old Asheville Highway near the Haywood-Buncombe county line around 9 p.m. Sunday.
By the time departments arrived on the scene, flames were reaching about 60 feet in the air and covering 200 square feet. The fire consumed about 200 tires and the trailer part of a tractor trailer.
"There were eight departments there plus the NC Forest Service because the fire was blowing huge chunks of rubber into the woods," Pless said.
The fire came dangerously close to the main building of the business, but firefighters were able to keep the flames at bay and there was no damage to the building.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, but is considered suspicious, Pless said.
Mike Cordle said his wife Cindy owned the business, which she closed Dec. 2. But because of inclement weather and a death in the family, he had not been able to haul the tires away.
He said he saw three men in the building late Saturday evening as he was driving home from Candler. He attempted to stop them, but they drove away in two vehicles. Cordle found some items in a pile, which he believes the men intended to return and steal.
Cordle believes those men are the culprits who started the fire the next night, perhaps revenge for catching them at the business the night before.
He said he and his wife incurred about $50,000 worth of damage from the fire.
"It's very unsettling to me that this happened," he said.
He says he plans to keep the tires that remain to sell and recycle the tires that are not suitable to sell.
It is illegal in North Carolina to burn tires and other rubber products. A violator could be fined up to $10,000 according information available on the NC Division of Air Quality website.
As an alternative, tires can be recycled. The recycling center in Haywood County accepts tires and tires with rims at no charge, said County Solid Waste Director Stephen King.
All that is asked of the person is to fill out a form to be turned in for the center's scrap tire report. That's because the county gets 2 percent per capita back from the state tire program.
According to the NC Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, an advance disposal fee is charged when new tires are sold. The proceeds are distributed to each county to pay for collection and recycling of tires.
King said he even provides recycling trailers at tire stores to make recycling the tires convenient.