THE infamous ‘tyre graveyard’, located close to Seseña, some 35 kilometres south of Madrid, exploded into flame in the early hours of Friday May 13.
At least 20 per cent of the tyres have already been consumed by the blaze, as firefighters struggle to wrest control.
The inferno broke out at around 2am, with a toxic cloud of pungent smoke rising from the landfill and filling the surrounding area.
Castilla-la Mancha has activated a territorial emergency plan with a toll-free phone number for residents, while regional president Emiliano Garcia-Page has suspended his calendar of scheduled events this morning in order to visit the site.
All local schools have been closed for the day, while locals with respiratory problems have been advised to stay indoors, and drivers told to keep vehicle windows closed.
A total of 10 fire crews have been called in to battle the conflagration, as well as two helicopters, but the dense, noxious column of smoke appears to be complicating matters.
The 117,000-square-metre dumping site, which contains hundreds of thousands of tonnes of old tyres, has long been in the crosshairs for concerned local authorities and campaign groups, and was declared illegal as long ago as 2003, due to violation of environmental standards and its proximity to a large housing development.
Administrating company Disfilt SA has been fined on a number of occasions, and the owner was even sent to prison for ecological crimes in 2009, but no solution has ever been presented, and now the worst appears to have happened.