WARREN - More than 1,000 scrap tires were removed from the 1600 block of Burton Street S.E. Friday by three dozen volunteers, police and city officials trying to battle a growing problem in the city.
The volunteers, residents, community activists and six Trumbull County Jail inmates helped clean up the tires and a slew of other items, including several mattresses, couches and televisions.
Warren police environmental officer and Detective Pat Marsico said the investigation began when neighbors of a vacant home at 1624 Burton St. S.E. complained people were dumping tires near the home.
Marsico said they found about 250 tires behind the home and hundreds more inside the home.
"If this catches fire, the City of Warren doesn't have enough foam to put it out," he said.
Marsico said the home was one of about 2,200 in the city that has been scheduled for demolition. He said the city budgeted $4,200 for tire cleanups this year, but Friday's cleanup would wipe out most, if not all, of the budget. He said the Burton Street house was chosen because a family with three children lives next door.
The bank foreclosed on the home but left the note in the previous owner's name, who has not lived there for some time, Marsico said. No charges will be filed against him.
Marsico said the problem has grown significantly in the city.
Three blocks away, on the other side of the Metalico Youngstown scrap yard, are about 500 more tires in the woods, Marsico said. At least a dozen can be viewed from the street.
Marsico said the city is going to set up cameras to try and catch people illegally dumping tires. If someone is caught leaving 12 or more tires, the charge reaches an unclassified felony level.
"Once they drive past and see tires and a vacant house, they're going to come back," Marsico said.
Marsico said the only tire transporter licensed by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is Warren Tire Wholesale.
"We think it's people trying to undercut them," he said. "When you see two or three loose tires, that's usually just people changing their own tires."
Marlin Jones, of Main Avenue, said the scrap tires affect the way people view their own neighborhoods.
"Look, the value of the houses around here can't go any lower, so that's not the problem," Jones said. "It's about the environment it produces. Look around here - there's everything from couches to televisions."
Christian Anderson of the Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, who helped coordinate the volunteers, said the situation is environmental risk and makes it hard for people to want to move into the neighborhood.
"It brings neighborhoods down," Anderson said. "If I was looking for a house and I saw this, I wouldn't want to live here."
Warren Mayor Doug Franklin commended Marsico's efforts and said the city is going to crack down on people who illegally dump tires.
"We want to send a message to all illegal dumpers that we are going to be aggressive in pursuing these people and prosecuting them," Franklin said.