The Dallas County fire marshal is cracking down on 12 auto salvage businesses in the southern part of the county.
Neighbors along Dowdy Ferry Road have long complained the salvage yards are polluting groundwater and the Trinity River among other safety issues. Now, they're being ordered to close and clean up before they're able to open back up for business.
Heavy equipment pulling junked cars out of the Trinity River floodplain Friday afternoon at a salvage yard called Choose and Cruise. It was one of a dozen salvage yards along Dowdy Ferry Road, an unincorporated area of southern Dallas County, the Dallas County fire marshal says it shut down recently and has been monitoring daily.
"There's several hundreds of cars down here that we have to get pulled out. And until we get all those pulled out, they are not able to operate any type of business here,” said Dallas County Fire Marshal Robert De Los Santos. “Pull all those out. They'll come out of the floodplains. What they're doing is crushing those cars and pulling them out of here. So a bunch of these salvage yards are going to start condensing."
The fire marshal's office is in charge of enforcing compliance rules for salvage yards in Dallas County.
Wanda Boyce and her husband fun a feed store across the road and are part of a community action group called Friends of Dowdy Ferry.
"We have wells out here. So it's a great concern to us that they don't get into the underground springs where our water comes from,” Boyce said. “It's really been cleaned up quite a bit, and we're really grateful for that."
Further west along the road, the fire marshal showed off one salvage yard where he says major progress is being made. It's more than eyesores and pollution concerns for residents and wildlife along the Trinity River.
De Los Santos says many of the junkyards also don't have proper ways in and out for emergency vehicles. The yards are now under what's called a ‘fire watch.’
Gates are unlocked in the morning and locked again each afternoon to ensure the only business being conducted there is crushing cars and moving cars.
"They are starting to work with us,” the fire marshal said. “They are starting to come into compliance."
De Los Santos says it could take three to four months to get all the cars pulled out of the floodplain and all the salvage yards in compliance. Until then, they will stay padlocked.