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Firestone Bus Tires Not at Fault

January 21, 2001

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Poor maintenance, not defective Firestone tires, caused tire blowouts and fires on San Diego Transit buses, a consultant has concluded.

Many tires on the city’s fleet were under-inflated and tests showed the likely cause of the fires was friction as they rubbed against the road or dual tires rubbed against each other, Harold Herzlick of Las Vegas said in a report issued Friday.

Overheated brakes also may have been a factor, the report said.

Exploding tires set off fires that destroyed three buses worth $429,000 each on freeways. No one was injured.

San Diego Transit leased about 2,000 tires from Firestone. They were not part of the national recall of some types of the company’s tires.

San Diego Transit President Ron Yagura canceled a $550,000 tire and maintenance contract with Firestone last month based on ``serious″ maintenance issues that he believed were the cause of the blowouts and fires.

Transit officials are negotiating an agreement with Michelin and Goodyear.

Firestone representatives did not immediately return a call for comment on Sunday.

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