GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) _ A recall of 6.5 million Firestone tires has boosted business for Michelin's plants.

Greenville-based Michelin North America said it boosted production of 15-inch tires by 250 percent and pushed plants to 100 percent capacity to handle demand.

Michelin said it had backorders for 900,000 tires even before Firestone/Bridgestone Inc. said Thursday that it would reimburse customers who replaced Firestone tires being recalled with those made by competitors.

``We understand the consumer need and are doing everything we can to provide relief,'' said Jim Micali, president and chairman.

Michelin North America, a subsidiary of the French tire giant, operates 21 plants in 19 locations.

The push comes after Firestone said on Aug. 9 that it would recall 6.5 million of its ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires after an analysis suggested they were prone to tread separation at high speeds. Most of the recalled tires were installed on Ford trucks and sport utility vehicles.

Federal officials are investigating the tires in connection with more than 300 accidents and at least 62 deaths nationwide.

Bridgestone/Firestone also increased production to deal with the recall, as have competitors Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and General Tire Inc.

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On the Net:

Bridgestone/Firestone: http://www.bridgestone-firestone.com

Michelin: http://www.michelin.com/

Ford Motor Co.: http://www.ford.com

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: http://www.nhtsa.gov