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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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wednesday 08/26/2009 Air Pollution

7:03 PM: Faint wood smoke for a few minutes. Then it was gone. 75 degrees, cloudy, another mild summer evening.

It's another smoky hell of an evening in North St. Paul. Does that come as any surprise to you? It should not. What is surprising is when it isn't smoky in this town. We got two days of smoke-free air with no rain in July. We had a total of six smoke-free days that month including the four it rained.

8:00 PM: No wood smoke where we are. There will be more. Give it time.

At this time I went around the city for a little bit. It was early for recreational fires. Most do not get started until 9 PM or later. I was bored and wanted to get out of the house. I did not do a thorough search for wood smoke tonight. This was something to occupy me before turning in. My clothes got all smoky. A shower will be required before bed.

The pushpins on the map are approximate. When I placed them, they moved a little bit from the original spot.

Bonfires I saw

1) I saw a HUGE plume of smoke rising from a backyard on Chippewa around 8:15 PM. I could not smell wood smoke in front of the house but could smell it on 17th just north of Delaware. I could see from 2nd that a house on Chippewa was having the fire. It looked like they had some people over for some air pollution. A half-hour later 2nd St. was all smoked up.

One person has a fire and dozens, if not hundreds, have to breathe smoky air. Does that sound fair? That's how our city council makes us live.

2) A small but very smoky bonfire on the north side of Poplar just east of Lake Blvd. I was heading down Poplar when I saw light wood smoke haze in the headlights of a vehicle at the stop sign about 9 PM. Strong wood smoke in the area. I was at first glad it was smoky here because city council member Bob Bruton, a supporter of recreational burning, lives a couple of houses north of the burner. I was upset when I discovered the smoke from the fire was drifting south-southeast and Bruton probably wouldn't be able to smell it. It wasn't smoky in front of Bruton's house at all. I had difficultly breathing when I was right in front of the house of the burner. My body would not allow more than a shallow breath. Wood smoke is very hard on me. I can still feel heaviness in my lungs an hour later.

It was smoky of varying intensity all along the Poplar-Swan horseshoe. I could smell the wood smoke from that fire all along the southern edge of Silver Lake and all the way along 18th Ave. from Henry to west beyond Charles. The wood smoke smelled the same on 18th as on Poplar. I found no other burners in the area at the time. It had to be from the same source. That is a quarter-mile distance from the source. Wood smoke can travel much farther than that. One person has a fire and people a quarter-mile away have to breathe smoky air.

Around 9:30 PM the fire was extinguished. With the fire out you could still smell wood smoke in front of the house.

3) Maplewood bonfire. It was smoky all over the section of Maplewood bounded by Beam, McKnight, Lydia, and Helen/Bellaire. I found one bonfire on the northeast corner of E. Standridge & Mary St. As smoky as it was up there, I figure there had to be more than one burner producing smoke covering such a large area, about an eighth-mile square. But maybe not. The burner on Poplar smoked up a neighborhood a quarter-mile away. One burner can produce a lot of wood smoke.

Areas of smokiness

I could smell wood smoke all over the place. When I was out I could smell a faint trace at Shawnee & Chippewa getting stronger heading toward Beam (the smoke could have been coming from Maplewood). Faint wood smoke at Beam & Helen. Light wood smoke on Helen just north of Navajo. Strong wood smoke at Poplar & Lake. Light to moderate wood smoke all along the southern edge of Silver Lake. It was not very smoky at 18th & Margaret when I was by there. I thought it would be. Nothing more than a faint trace of wood smoke similar to what was blanketing much of the northern half of the city.

9:45 PM: Light wood smoke. Back home now. It smells a little like burning paper. Not pleasant. Ick.

10:05 PM: Light to moderate wood smoke. It's getting smokier outside quickly.

10:30 PM: Light to moderate wood smoke continues.

11:00 PM: Faint to light wood smoke. The intensity of the air pollution has decreased. Aren't we lucky? It is 67 degrees now. It would be nice to open the windows and enjoy the cool air like the city suggests we do in the city newsletter. Who wants a home to smell like wood smoke?

11:38 PM: Very faint trace of wood smoke remains. The air is clearing. Yay for us!

Any of you readers out there wish you lived in this city? Smoky air almost every day. I don't have asthma. I don't have allergies. I don't have any respiratory diseases. I am in good health. The smoky air in this city is hard on me. What do you think it would be like for an elderly person or a kid with asthma? If it is hard on me, it has to be killer on them.