Firefighters at the Rawdon Fire Department spent Wednesday cleaning oily, black soot off nearly all of their equipment following a long night of fighting a major tire fire at a scrap yard in Upper Rawdon, N.S.

In many ways, Tuesday night’s fire was a worst-case scenario for the fire department.

"The heat that's involved and how the fire reacts and the depth of it, and then you get all the chemicals and stuff coming off of it. It's a very difficult fire to put out," said Rawdon Deputy Fire Chief James Robinson.

The call of a fire at the scrap yard came in around 6:20 p.m. Tuesday, prompting a response from nearly 100 firefighters from 15 departments. Roughly 1,000 tires were burning at the height of the blaze.

"You could see the smoke from quite a distance, and you could also smell the tires burning," said area resident Keith Custance.

The fire continued into Tuesday evening, with crews finally bringing in an excavator to break up the pile and get more water and foam down.

"Oh it was a big fire. You get a couple thousand tires in a pile - wow!" said Danny McCulloch, the owner of the scrap yard.

McCulloch says he was cutting some metal before taking a break to eat when he noticed something was wrong.

"When I came back out after supper, I was changing the tire on a car and I just happened to look out in the back of the junkyard and the sky was black," describes McCulloch.

McCulloch says he's just glad no one was hurt, and that the fire didn't spread into the nearby woods.

On Thursday, Nova Scotia Environment Minister Iain Rankin confirmed his department has ordered McCulloch to hire an environmental company to assess whether the fire caused any long-term damage to nearby waterways.

Environment inspectors spent Wednesday on site, surveying what was left of the melted pile. Rankin says the investigators determined there wasn’t “an immediate emergency”, but the site will require further assessment.

Rankin adds the scrap yard was the subject of a previous directive in 2016 when it complied with a request to remove a number of its tires.

In a statement to CTV News, a spokesperson from the province’s Department of Environment added that the yard has an industrial approval agreement that states all tires should be discarded at an approved tire collection facility at least once a year or at the direction of the Inspector.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Bruce Frisko.