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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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tuesday 09/01/2009 Air Pollution

1:15 AM: Very faint trace of wood smoke remains in the air.

2:00 AM: Very faint trace of wood smoke continues.

6:30 AM: No wood smoke in the air! There is a faint sulfur odor coming from the industrial section of town.

6:10 PM: Faint wood smoke on the breeze. The breeze is very slight flowing to the west. I lit a match outside and watched the smoke drift west. 71 degrees, sunny, another beautiful evening ruined by wood smoke.

6:40 PM: Faint grass smoke. Somebody is burning grass.

6:45 PM: I went out and tracked down the grass burner. They are frequent grass burners. They burn wood 4 - 7 times a week, too. They burn wood then burn grass as if they think we can't smell the burning grass. We can. I will be reporting them to the city.

7:05 PM: Light wood smoke on the breeze.

8:30 PM: Very faint wood smoke coming out of the east.

I finished a careful read of the city's recreational burning ordinances. The definition of a recreational fire under Chapter 98: NUISANCES is:

RECREATIONAL FIRE. A fire set with approved starter fuel no more than three feet in height, contained within the border of a “recreational fire site” using dry, clean wood; producing little detectable smoke, odor or soot beyond the property line; conducted with an adult tending the fire at all times; for recreational, ceremonial, food preparation for social purposes; extinguished completely before quitting the occasion; and respecting weather conditions, neighbors, burning bans, and air quality so that nuisance, health or safety hazards will not be created. No more than one recreational fire is allowed on any property at one time.

If a nuisance is created by wood smoke crossing property lines, as it almost always is, it no longer falls under the definition of a recreational fire. When I smell wood smoke on our property, which is every single night, and if I can find the source, I will be calling the police to make a nuisance complaint. Four nuisance calls to an address within a 30-day period can result in fines for the property owner, I think.

If the city cares to enforce this, and I hope they do, it could help shut down some of the frequent burners, those who burn several times a week. There are several of those among the hundreds of homes around us. It will not eliminate the wood smoke pollution problem in this city since some burners only burn once a week or a few times a summer, but anything to make this city more livable will help. Breathing smoky air 25 evenings in a month is not enjoyable. It's a living hell.

I don't like the idea of wasting the resources of trained police officers to make wood smoke nuisance complaints. But since city council members Jan Walczak, Bob Bruton, Terry Furlong, and Dave Zick have refused to do anything about this nightly wood smoke problem, we really don't have much choice.

9:10 PM: Very faint wood smoke continues. 64 degrees at this time. It will likely continue for hours. Most of the burners are to the west of us. There are some to the east, too. Actually, whichever direction the wind blows it brings wood smoke to us. Recreational burning has exploded the past few years thanks to this city's generous ordinance allowing burning seven days a week and there is no end in sight. As long as Walczak, Bruton, Furlong, and Zick are on the city council, smoky air is here to stay.

10:00 PM: No wood smoke. Fresh air! Did the burning stop or did the wind shift direction? How long will it last? Going to bed now.

Midnight: No wood smoke. Woke up around this time. The air was clear.