BOWIE COUNTY, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – Environmental investigators spent Friday cleaning up an abandoned property in the Bowie County community of Simms.
Officials said there are at least 20,000 tires at the property off County Road 4152. “The drone footage shows there’s just piles of tires all throughout the property, a lot of it is covered by trees that you can’t see, but there’s tires underneath the trees,” said Bowie County Deputy Fire Marshal Scottie Taylor.
Taylor said the owner of the property, who officials have so far been unable to locate, picked up tires from area stores and, instead of disposing of them properly, dumped them at the 10 acre property. “The tire shops were collecting $4.50, $5.00 a tire to dispose of them, and paying him .50 to .75 cents to haul ’em off,” Taylor said.
Environmental investigators said they’re now visiting area businesses to ensure they’re disposing of tires properly.
Taylor said the property in Simms has prompted weekly calls to the county from residents. “Most of the complaints come from off this road people that live around this site.”
Aleta May lives about a mile from the property. She said, “We drive by here and say, who, who has those tires? Can we get ’em out of here?”
May’s daughter, Caroline, lives near the property, too. “I’ve driven by several times … you know, the mosquito infestation is really bad,” she said.
Officials said the cleanup could cost $150,000. So far, the county has received $9,000 in grant money. But Taylor said the problem extends beyond the property in Simms. “Last year, we had a large fire where about 200 tires burned and we started realizing we had these tire sites all around. So, we started trying to get grant money to clean ’em up.”
Just this year, Bowie County officials said they’ve cleaned up 116 tons of tires.
Friday, officials said they moved over a thousand tires off the property in Simms. But the entire property is expected to take years to clean up.
Bowie County officials said dumping over 200 pounds of tires is a felony. Cameras are now placed out at the Simms property to deter any further dumping at the site.