PARADISE VALLEY, Mont. -

When a property owner proposed a tire dump just outside the small town of Pray, south of Livingston, community members raised a number of concerns.

"We're worried about the influx of mosquitoes, rodents, and then of course with tire we're very worried about air quality," said Kerry Fee of the Park County Environmental Council.

According to the site application it would have handled up to five million tires and operated for 20 years.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality had worked with property owner Mike Adkins, to try to ease the major concerns that would come with the site and approved Adkins application.

"I think we've done our due diligence. There are several other facilities in the state of the same type and we haven't had any issues with them," said Rick Thompson of the DEQ.

But the Park County Health Officer blocked the plan, saying after he had some unanswered questions, particularly regarding fires.

"In the setting of a fire they can release a number of toxins and oils for that matter and the concern would be in the setting of a fire, that gets into the groundwater, there's a lot of local wells in the area, the Yellowstone River is a short distance away. They're all in the same aquifer. So my chief duty really was to protect those sources," said Dr. Douglas Wadle, the Park County Health Officer.

Wadle said the environmental assessment put together by the DEQ addressed the potential of fires, but didn't cover what steps would be taken after a fire to keep the community safe.

"What would be the guarantees as far as preventing contamination of the groundwater and preserving the public health aspects related to that," Wadle wanted to know.

State DEQ officials say they've experienced fires at other tire dump sites in the state and didn't see any issues.

"There was a fire at one facility in 2001 and ground wells have been monitored by the EPA and there has not shown to be any contamination," Thompson said.

Dr. Wadle said he is also concerned about mosquitoes breeding in the water inside the tires, which could heighten the risk of West Nile virus.

Adkins has 30 days to appeal the decision to the Board of Environmental Review.