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Officials drop chemical foam on large tire fire

August 2, 1997

GILA RIVER INDIAN COMMUNITY, Ariz. (AP) _ Firefighters began dumping chemical foam Saturday to try and smother a huge tire fire as federal investigators looked into suspicions of arson.

The 150 people evacuated Friday remained out of their homes. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were called in to help investigate.

Authorities hoped to arrange for an emergency shipment of retardant from Atlanta, and to truck in 270,000 gallons of water, said Carole Jackson, a spokeswoman for the Gila River Indian Community.

To smother the fire, planes have to drop water to cool it down, follow with a load of foam, and then another dousing of water, said Maricopa County spokesman Scott Celley.

The fire in this community 70 miles southeast of Phoenix began Friday and consumed 16 mounds of shredded tires. Three million shredded tires were being stored for recycling.

The 50-foot-high mounds of tires have been the focus of a dispute between the Indian community and the county. Officials from both governments think the other is responsible for removal of the tires.

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