Tires litter the Old Atlanta Prison Farm in May.
Photo: Courtesy Joe Peery
Photo: Courtesy Joe Peery

City: Progress made after huge tire fire at Old Atlanta Prison Farm 

After a tire fire so big people saw it from planes flying into Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the city of Atlanta says it is making progress in stopping illegal dumping at the Old Atlanta Prison Farm.

The city removed 70 loads, or more than 4,300 tires, and put up barricades along the road leading to the sprawling abandoned site, Atlanta spokeswoman Jenna Garland said Thursday. Security cameras and motion-detecting lights are also in place, and more fencing is coming to prevent another occurrence like a mid-July fire, which took 18 hours to extinguish.

The upgrades are planned to be finished in the next three weeks.

The news was welcome to Joe Peery, who’s been pushing for years to turn the roughly 300 acres off Moreland Avenue into a park

“That’s huge,” he said. “I think it will help a lot.”

The Atlanta illustrator notified the city of the dumping problem, which led to thousands of tires littering the land, weeks before the fire.

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He said workers came and hauled away some from the property, which is in DeKalb County but owned by Atlanta. But only a pile of dirt was left to block entrance for the next load of tires.

Soon someone drove over the barrier and kept on dumping.

Police haven’t determined who’s been doing the dumping.

A tire fire burned in the Old Atlanta Prison Farm in mid-July.
Photo: Courtesy Joe Peery

Peery, who visits regularly, said it seemed like “an organized operation.” 

“Who else could arrange to have this done in a pretty public place along Key Road where (police are) up and down all day?”

The city also removed 124 tons of other debris from the site, which is a favored spot by television and film crews.

Also known as the Honor Farm, the site began operations around 1918 and was closed in 1995. Since then, many have been taken by the landscape.

“It’s beautiful,” Peery said. “It’s just blighted.”

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The city of Atlanta owns the old Atlanta prison farm where the fire started, but the site is not secure with a fence, gate or locks.

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