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Closure order targets tire burnouts

The Wednesday night tire burnout in the parking lot of the Summit mall in Wheatfield is being shut down by the Niagara County Board of Health.

The board voted unanimously Thursday to issue an abatement notice, informing the organizers that the activity is dangerous to the public's health.

Assistant County Attorney J. Michael Fitzgerald said once the letter is written and sent, the organizers will have 15 days to comply or request a hearing.

But county Environmental Health Director James J. Devald said he had been in touch with the management of the Williams Road mall, and they said they would shut down the burn pit upon receipt of a letter from the county.

Peter Green, marketing director for the Summit, confirmed that. "Once we get the letter, we will comply with all laws," he said, adding that the mall had received some complaints in the past from nearby residents about the event, first held in 2005.

The board was shown videotapes and digital photos taken by Health Department sanitarians at the event this month. Joseph Baronich, a county public health sanitarian, said the burn pit is the scene of a contest in which vehicles have their wheels blocked and the drivers then floor the accelerator to generate as much tire smoke as possible.

"Who thinks up these things?" asked Dr. Thomas Hughes, a Lockport physician and board member who made the motion to send the cease-and-desist letter.

Green said the organizers of "Shredd and Ragan Cruise Night," who rent the property every week, told the mall they would not hold the event without the burn pit.

Kathy Paradowski of Special Vending, a North Tonawanda company that lined up the event with WEDG-FM, a Buffalo radio station, said she'd have to see what the letter says about the burn pit. But she said the Wednesday event, which includes a wide range of other car- and motorcycle-related activities and contests, wouldn't be halted altogether.

"Of course it'll continue," she said. "The burn pit is just one part of the event."

Baronich said he brought a portable carbon monoxide detector and measured 150 parts per million of carbon monoxide in the front row of the spectator area on June 13.

Baronich said a home carbon monoxide detector might trip at 6 parts per million, and a reading of 10 or more would result in an advisory to a homeowner to open the windows and call a repairman.

Baronich said there was one complaint from a nearby resident when the event began in 2005, and a couple last year, but this year there have been more than 20 complaints. He said Health Department crews were able to smell tire smoke two miles away from the mall June 13, when the wind blew out of the east and carried the smoke west, into the LaSalle section of Niagara Falls. Lingering fumes were seen under trees in that area, he said.
"You're looking at 1,200 homes [in that area]," Stapleton said.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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