Recreational Fires Must Be Eliminated

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The air is smoky from burning wood in North St. Paul, MN, almost every evening. It is a nightmare. What used to be a nice place to live has become a living hell.

WARNING: If you buy a house in North St. Paul, MN, you will regret it! It may be the biggest, most expensive mistake you ever make. You will breathe smoky air almost every day of your life in this town. This is not an exaggeration. The wood smoke in this town gets heavy and gets heavy often. When you want to get out of this dump of a town, how many people do you think are going to want to buy a house in a city where heavy air pollution every night is normal and clean air is rare? This blog gets thousands of visitors every year. The word is out: North St. Paul is a horrible place to live!

Fresh air is very rare around here. If you are considering moving to North St. Paul or buying a home here, I strongly recommend that you do not do it no matter how good of a price you get. The only way you will be happy in this town is if you love breathing smoky air almost every day. North St. Paul, MN, is a horrible place to live because of the smoky air!

Burning wood, grass, leaves, paper, cardboard, and sometimes plastic, construction materials, and chemicals, if it is combustible it gets burned in North St. Paul and you are going to breathe it.

The air was smoky 25 out of 31 evenings in July 2009. We had 37 hours of continuous wood smoke in the air Aug. 29th - 31st. There was wood smoke in the air 19 consecutive evenings from Aug. 21st to Sept. 8th. It rained heavily on Aug. 20th, providing the only relief we got from wood smoke for almost three weeks.

Is this a good way to live? No. It is a horrible way to live. Take it from someone who knows. Breathing smoky, polluted air every day is misery.

Every day in this city several people are having recreational fires. Every evening the air is filled with the stench of burning wood. I am one person sick and tired of breathing smoky air every day. Is it too much to ask to be able to breathe fresh air in your own home?

Who is responsible for this wood smoke nightmare? The four city council members are responsible. Council members Jan Walczak, Bob Bruton, Terry Furlong, and Dave Zick have refused to do anything about this wood smoke problem. They don't care if you have a child with asthma. They don't care if you have to live like a shut-in because the air is so polluted. They don't care if your sinuses burn because the wood smoke is so heavy.

Our four Council members have defended the rights of a small percentage of households to burn wood daily over the rights of all the rest of us to breathe.

You have no right to breathe under Walczak, Bruton, Furlong, and Zick. Burners have the right to burn wood 49 hours a week recreationally. The rest of us have no rights at all.

If you are considering purchasing real estate in the city of North Saint Paul, Minnesota (55109), factor this blog carefully into your decision. Buying a home in this city means that your kids will breathe smoky air while playing in the yard almost every day. Your baby will breathe smoky air in her crib should you leave the windows open around your house. If you leave your windows open you will wake up in the middle of the night choking on smoky air.

Perhaps worst of all, your utility rates will be high because you will have to run the air conditioner instead of leaving the windows open on a cool summer evening. You have no other choice because almost every night the air is too smoky to breathe in this city. Consider this blog your warning.

North St. Paul, Minnesota, is a wonderful community other than the wood smoke. If we could restore fresh air like we used to enjoy, life would be happy again. But that is not going to happen any time soon.

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Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday 06/30/2008 Burning

5:00 PM - 10:00PM: Smoke free where I am. Nobody was burning around me from what I could tell. I could step outside and take a deep breath and enjoy the fresh air. Every day should be like this. Breathing fresh air should be the norm, not the exception!

11:00 PM: Very faint, almost undetectable smokiness in the air. Many people would not be able to smell it. I can. I know what fresh air is and this isn't it. It is bearable.

Today was the least smoky day all month. It was about 82 degrees at 6 PM. Maybe the warmth is discouraging people from burning. If it's cool enough to have the windows open the air is so smoky you can't breathe. If it is warm enough to have the air conditioning on less people burn.

Dare I sleep with the windows open tonight? It's only 71 degrees outside right now. I sleep very well when the bedroom is cool.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday 06/29/2008 Burning

2:30 AM: Prior to this time there was no smoke (went to sleep around 1:30 AM). Somebody started burning around this time. Yes, someone was burning wood at 2:30 in the morning! Maybe somebody getting back from the bar decided to burn some wood. I had to get up out of bed and close the windows! The wind was gusty and the stench of burning wood was strong. It had to be someone pretty close by with the smokiness that strong. I stepped out the back door and looked around. I did not see any glowing or flickering from flames. I have no idea who was doing it.

It was about 63 degrees outside at that time. I probably was not the only one around here with my windows open (I can see the neighbor's window open). A cool summer night is perfect for having the windows open, except around here.

Do you like waking up in the middle of the night to the stench of burning wood? I don't know anyone who would answer 'yes' to that question.

Not even in the wee hours of the morning are we free from the stench of smoke. Leave the windows open at your own risk.

5:00 AM: Air is clear and fresh. Ahhh! I'll take a deep breathe and enjoy every bit of that fresh air because in a few hours somebody will start burning again. If not by noon, definitely by 12 hours from now.

7:00 PM: Up until this point I noticed no burning. At this time the guy down the street who burns every day burned for about an hour. It was very smoky. Instead of the usual wind pattern blowing east, the wind was blowing south, so I did not smell any of his burning at all. Today must have been my lucky day.

8:30PM: Another neighbor to the northwest started burning. I can't see through the trees and foliage, but their backyard was smoky. I only experienced a light smokiness at this time. Still, it isn't fresh air, which I should be able to breathe!

9:00 PM: I left at this time and was out of the city.

10:00 PM: On my way back home I made a detour to pass by Silver Lake. It was smoky all along the west and south side of the lake. I decided to go down 18th Ave. Unbelievably smoky over here! The smoke was overpowering. It was so smoky I felt nauseous. My stomach turned. For a minute I felt like I was going to vomit all over myself. I developed a mild headache from the polluted air. There was a very strong pocket of smokiness on 18th between Henry and Charles. This was the strongest. There was another pocket of smokiness on 18th closer to Margaret. The smoke from recreational burning is bad where I live, but in that area it is even worse! I don't know how those people can stand to live over there. I did not notice any homes with their front windows open. It's not hard to figure out why, is it?

By the time I got home I could not tell if it was smoky where I am. My sense of smell was impaired by the strong smoke on 18th Ave. My nose was irritated and burning. I could not smell much of anything.

I am not joking about this and am not exaggerating in the least.

11:00 PM: My sense of smell is starting to return. I took a step out the back door and can't really say I detected smoke. It didn't smell like fresh air, either. My sense of smell may not be fully back to normal.

I guess I'll have to sleep with the windows closed again. You never know who is going to burn at 2:30 AM and smoke up your bedroom.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saturday 06/28/2008 Burning

1:00 AM: Smokiness from Friday night's burning is starting to dissipate. It's very faint. I didn't stay up past this point.

6:30 PM: The neighbor down the street who burns every day burned something for about five minutes. The wind didn't blow the smoke in my direction so I couldn't tell if he was burning grass or just wood. Since it was such a short burn I assume he was burning grass, something he does all the time. It was obvious that it wasn't smoke from a grill.

9:00 PM: Medium smokiness where I am. It is about 67 degrees outside, uncharacteristically cool for late June. A beautiful cool evening ruined by burning wood.

I went for a walk around the block at this time. In a radius of 1/10th of a mile from my home I counted four recreational fires. There was a fifth fire about a block outside of that radius. That explains why it was smoky where I am.

10:15 PM: Mild smokiness.

11:30 PM: Mild smokiness. It may be mild smokiness, it is still an annoyance. Who wants to breathe smoky air even if it is only mildly smoky?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday 06/27/2008 Burning

4:45 PM: Noticed the smell of wood smoke. Probably coming from somewhere off in the distance. Rain started shortly after. There shouldn't be too many fires tonight.

6:45 PM: The rain stopped for the time being. Faint smell of wood smoke. Yes, someone had to burn wood during the gap in the rain.

8:30 PM: Very light smokiness.

10:00 PM: Light smokiness.

11:59 PM: Heavy smokiness. I cracked the window open and sniffed. Wood smoke! It is midnight and somebody just has to burn wood. Can't they find something better to do? There is absolutely no chance of opening the windows tonight! You cannot imagine how angry that makes me. It is a cool evening and I cannot even open the windows because of the smell of smoke! I don't know who is doing it. The wind is blowing to the east, so it must be someone to the west of me.

I sent an email to one of the city council members and to the city website requesting that the council and acting mayor be alerted to this issue. I also requested the link to this blog be forwarded.

Why can't I have the freedom to open the windows at night and breathe smoke-free air?

Considering the council members and acting mayor live in this city, they must experience the smokiness, too. Why did they let it get like this? Do they like the smell of burning wood every single day? I cannot imagine that anybody would. Unless they are lucky enough to live where the wind patterns don't bring the smoke into their windows every day they have them opened. I am not so fortunate. With so many people burning these days, it is unlikely they are immune to it.

There has been much attention directed to smoking in bars and restaurants the past few years. Smoking is now banned in these establishments. If people can enjoy a meal at a restaurant without the irritating smell of smoke, why do I have to endure it in my own home? Or when I step outside?

Right on the city website it says "enjoy your recreational fire". Unnecessary air pollution should never be encouraged by the government. Never.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thurdsay 06/26/2008 Burning

5:30 PM - 8:30 PM: No smokiness detected where I am. I wish every evening was like this. There are still a couple of hours left before I go to bed.

Could this be the first day in several weeks without anybody burning wood nearby and smoking up the air? It would be nice.

8:45PM: I knew it would be too good to last. It looks like a neighbor is just starting a fire. Smokiness above his yard and just the faintest smell of smoke can be detected from my backyard. Too bad. They do have a recreational fire going.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wednesday 06/25/2008 Burning

7:00 PM: It is about 84 degrees outside right now. There is a mild to moderate intermittent smokiness in the air. The wind is very gusty right now blowing to the west-southwest from what I could see. The windiness is the reason the smokiness isn't constant. I don't know where it is coming from. Since it is windy it could be coming from a distance away.

9:00 PM: No smokiness from here onward.

This was a low smokiness day. A rarity in the city of North St. Paul.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tuesday 06/24/2008 Burning

4:30 PM: The guy down the street who burns almost every day burned some grass for about 10 - 15 minutes. He thinks he's being sneaky. He starts a small wood fire then rakes his grass clippings into it. Everyone around him knows what he's doing. I think someone called the cops on him last year. He still burns grass all the time.

8:45 PM: The air is mildy smoky outside. The wind is blowing toward the west. It looks like a neighbor to the northwest is having a fire again. I can't see it through the trees and foliage, but there is a smoky haze above their yard. The air conditioning is on, the windows are closed. If they were open, even the mild smokiness would be bothersome. Who wants to smell that in the house?

As you can see, we have had to endure smoky air the last 10 out of 10 days. We've had to endure smoky air a lot longer than that. Nearly 100% of the time every evening it is smoky, all throughout spring. I only started documenting it 10 days ago.

It is getting worse every year. Sometimes I wonder if others are bothered by the burning and they decide to join in on it. I've been tempted to burn myself for no other reason than if I can't enjoy fresh air I might as well be the one smoking it up. I have never had a fire here. Sitting around burning wood on a hot summer day does not interest me.

9:45 PM: It is smoky outside. On a scale of low to high I would rate it a medium. Spending a few minutes outside will leave a smoky smell in your clothes. The smoke isn't strong enough to irritate my sinuses, but strong enough that I'm glad the windows are closed. The wind is blowing west-northwest, so I don't know the source of this smoke. It could be someone 1/2 mile away or more.

Wood smoke travels.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday 06/23/2008 Burning

3:30 AM: Monday morning and somebody is burning wood. I am not sure who it is, but I strongly suspect the person down the street who has recreational fires several times a week. I can't see anything, but given that they burn so frequently and sometimes have several fires a day, I bet it is them. I wonder if they are doing it just to be a nuisance. As I said, I'm not sure it is them.

Not even fresh air at 3:30 AM on a Monday morning! I just got up to go to the bathroom, opened the window and the air was all smoky.

It is currently 61 degrees outside. I can't imagine anyone would have a fireplace going in late June.

6:45 PM: Someone is burning wood. IT STINKS! Have to close windows.

From about 6:45 PM to about 8:00 PM it was very smoky where I am. The smokiness died down after that. As of this writing (10:00 PM) the air outside is mildy smoky. Not strong smoke, but not clean, fresh, pleasant to breathe air.

From about 8:45 PM to 9:30 PM I went for a drive around the northern part of the city to do a little smoke detecting. It is Monday night, not a peak day for burning, but there were numerous fires all over the northern section of the city. There was a very light breeze blowing due west. This is what I found. Keep in mind that I probably did not find each and every fire since I did not go down each and every road.
  • 17th & Henry: House on the northeast corner had a recreational fire going. I saw the fire. Residents of the home sitting by a small fire. Smoky.
  • 18th & Charles: Pocket of strong smokiness near this intersection. Not from the fire on 17th & Henry. Must be another fire in someone's backyard here. There is always smoke in this area just about every day. There is a frequent burner around here.
  • 18th & Margaret: Strong pocket of smokiness a couple houses east of Margaret on 18th. The smokiness was not consistent along 18th Ave. It is unlikely that this smokiness was from the same source as that on 18th & Charles but from another fire.
  • 16th & Charles: Very strong pocket of smokiness here. I saw a guy and a kid sitting at a table outside Silver Lake Market. I hope that little girl likes smoky air. She's sitting in it.
  • Longview, middle of street just east of the curve: I saw large clouds of smoke coming from the back yard. It was wood smoke. The person who lives in that house is a frequent burner. They burn several days a week, possibly every day.
  • 19th & Longview: Very strong pocket of smokiness here. Somebody very nearby was burning wood. Not from the same source up Longview. It was so strong I could barely breathe!
  • 17th & 1st: It was either the first or second house on the southeast corner of this intersection that was having a large bonfire. I saw the fire. The flames were about 5 - 6 feet off the ground, not legal. The air reeked of smoke.
  • 14th & 1st: House on the southwest corner was having a fire. I saw the fire.
  • 13th & 3rd: It was the house on the southeast corner of this intersection (or the intersection of 14th & 3rd, I forgot) that had a incredibly smoky fire. The streets were filled with a giant cloud of smoke. Probably the smokiest thing I've ever seen in my life.
  • Navajo & Chippewa: The guy on the northwest corner of Navajo and Chippewa is a frequent burner. If he doesn't have a fire going I assume he is ill since he burns several times a week. Both he and his next door neighbor had fires going in their front yards. Both fires were very smoky. Two fires barely 20 feet apart from each other. Maybe those two could consolidate their uneccesary air pollution into only one smoky fire.
  • 1st just north of Navajo: Strong pocket of smokiness here about halfway up the street between Navajo and Indian Way.
I did not notice any fires at all in the neighborhood bounded by 17th, Radatz, and McKnight. I wonder if they realize how fortunate they are. But smoke from the fires on Navajo could be detected here.

And that's on a Monday! North St. Paul is a very smoky city. That's why I call it the smokiest city in the world. My clothes reeked of smoke just going for a 45 minute drive through the neighborhoods. That's how bad it is in this city.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday 06/22/2008 Burning

At 5:00 PM the same guy who had a fire on 6/20/2008 at 5:30 PM decided to burn some wood. Huge plumes of smoke came from his fire. I was in the middle of a shower. The stench of wood smoke poured into the bathroom. I had to jump out of the shower dripping wet and run around closing windows.

If the city council doesn't address this issue I am going to work real hard at getting them thrown out of office.

Nobody should have to live like this! Nobody has the right to pollute the air I have to breathe!

I just bathed and my skin smells like smoke!

7:00 PM: The person burning at 5:00 PM stopped after about an hour. As of this writing someone else is burning. Smells like a combination of wood and grass. It is a breezy evening. The smoke is probably carrying a considerable distance.

8:00 PM: The air hangs heavy with wood smoke. It is actually difficult to breathe if you stay outside for more than a minute or so. The smoke also irritates my nose causing discomfort. I think I would rather have a group of people smoking cigarettes in my home than smell that horrible wood smoke. I really wouldn't like either.

It is a true shame to have such a beautiful summer evening ruined by the overpowering stench of smoke.

I took a drive around a part of the city around 9:30 PM this evening. People were burning in the vicinity of:
  • 18th Ave. & Charles (there is somebody over there who constantly burns wood, even on weekend mornings)
  • 19th Ave. & 2nd St. (someone was burning grass)
  • North of Beam on Helen (not sure if it was a North St. Paul or Maplewood resident)
  • Helen & Navajo
  • South end of Hilltop Court (I saw the flames)
Sunday night is far from the peak time for burning. In that 1/2 sq. mile of area there were five people burning. You can see how much people burn in this city. I didn't notice any burning south of 17th Ave. But that doesn't mean someone wasn't burning. I can't uncover every one and I didn't drive down every street.

The burning where I am stopped around 9:30 PM. I get to sleep with the windows open tonight! I hope I don't end up waking up in the middle of the night because some jerk decides to burn late. That happens sometimes.

DAMMIT! At 12:30 AM Monday morning someone started burning again. I think I'm beginning to hate living in this city.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday 06/21/2008 Burning

Mild smokiness was detected around 7:15 PM from an unknown burner. By 8:30 PM the neighbor across the street had a recreational fire going as did the neighbor behind us diagonally to the northwest.

Someone a block south of us also had a bonfire.

By 9:30 PM another neighbor behind us diagonally to the northeast had a recreational fire going. They had a fire last night at the same time. There is very little wind to blow the smoke away. I have no choice but to close the windows and sit in a hot, stuffy house once again.

That's a total of four fires going within a block of this house this evening.

As of midnight it is still smoky outside. I'll have to sleep with the windows closed yet again.

Nobody should have to live like this!

As of 4 AM Sunday morning the air was still smoky.

The Burning Log

This blog is going to serve as a document of the kind of conditions we have to endure as residents of North St. Paul, Minnesota. If you want to live in this city you must love the smell of burning wood, or else you will be very unhappy.

The past few years have seen a dramatic rise in both the number and frequency of recreational fires. As recently as ten years ago recreational burning of wood was rare. For the past three or four years it has become an almost daily occurrence. Rare is it that we have a day with fresh air unpolluted by the stench of unnecessarily burned wood.

As a result of daily recreational fires living in this city has become unbearable. If you are considering moving to North Saint Paul, MN, you should be aware that these are the conditions you will have to contend with.

I am not the only one tired of constantly breathing smoky air in this city.

Date Time Smoke
6/15/2008 11:30 AM Somebody was burning grass starting at 11:30 AM followed by wood. Smokiness was constant and persisted all evening past 9 PM. It is Father's Day today, many people are burning wood. Slept with windows closed.
6/16/2008 7:00 PM Someone unknown burning. Had to close windows.
6/17/2008 8:00 PM Someone again burning wood. Had to close windows and leave them closed all night.
6/18/2008 9:30 PM Someone unknown started a fire at around 9:30 PM. Had to close windows. Smoky all night long. Mild smokiness persisted until 5 AM the next morning.
6/19/2008 5:30 PM Someone unknown started burning at around 5:30 PM. Smoky for the next 3 hours or so. After that it was a smoke free night. Able to open windows. At last, an opportunity to cool down the house at night! Thank God for fresh air!
6/20/2008 5:30 PM Neighbor down the street started a very smoky fire around 5:30 PM. It smelled like wood smoke with burning grass thrown in for good measure. Very strong stench of smoke. Had to close windows and turn on air conditioning. Fire lasted for about 3 hours. At 9:00 PM another neighbor started a recreational fire. Had to leave windows closed all night long. At 7 AM the next morning a very faint scent of burnt wood could still be detected.