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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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bonfire burner complains about smoky air

Update:  I did find out the resident lives in the city of North St. Paul.  At the time I made this post the blogging service was suffering technical difficulties.  Here is a link to her original comment.

It was another smoky hell of a night last night in North St. Paul, MN.  The smoke pollution was brutally strong all night long.  The burning started before 5 PM and only got heavier as the evening progressed.  The smoke cleared enough to open the windows around 2:30 AM this morning.  Since I was up, I thought I would check my blog and visitor statistics.  I see some people coming from links on stories about a movement to ban recreational burning and the pollution it produces in Edina, MN.

For whatever reason, I am unable to respond to or comment on my own posts.  I guess the blogging service is having technical difficulties of some sort.  So in order to respond to a comment on a post I allow comments on, I have to start a new post and respond here.  Here goes.  The commenter writes (in blue) with my reply following:

I found this blog right after moving to North Saint Paul. At first, I thought you were a bit overzealous. But after the heat wave died down, I started smelling the wood smoke. About a month ago I started having asthma attacks. I haven't had an asthma attack since I was 8. I've had more in the last month than in my entire life up until moving here. I no longer think you're overzealous. I enjoy a bonfire once in a while, but not every night and I always put mine out... I don't leave them smoldering for hours and hours. It really is horrible with the thick smoke lingering in the air all the time.

Hi, Faylyn.  Thanks for your comment.  I accidentally deleted a few other comments because I pushed the wrong button.  I haven't been checking this blog often this year.

Do you live in the city of North St. Paul or on the north side of the city of St. Paul?  I wish the founders of North St. Paul had chosen a more unique name for the city because it creates a lot of confusion.

I always get a kick out of receiving comments or emails from bonfire burners who complain about other people's burning.  That holier-than-thou wood burner stuff doesn't work with me.  All burning produces smoke.  Some are under the impression that if only "clean, dry wood" is burned it will be smokeless.  It isn't.  I imagine you never gave much consideration to the impact your burning has on others around you.  When people have bonfires, they position themselves so the smoke blows away from them.  But in a dense residential neighborhood, that smoke is blowing into somebody else's yard, and into their lungs and homes if they have their windows open.  Maybe some of your neighbors have asthma as you do.  Or maybe they want to sit outside and enjoy the fresh air or have their windows open so the breeze blows through their house, but they can't do that because of your burning.  Please think of that next time you consider having a bonfire.  I suppose in a way you are getting a taste of your own medicine with your asthma problems.  Karma.

People don't seem to realize how far wood smoke travels from the source.  With a gentle, steady breeze, the smoke from a small bonfire can be a nuisance as far as a half mile away.  I never bothered to track it farther than that.  The smoke blows wherever the wind takes it.  Without a breeze, the smoke from one bonfire can blanket an entire neighborhood.

Living in the middle of a square mile of residential homes, there is someone burning every night when the weather is nice.  Usually there are multiple homes burning within a quarter mile radius of us.  That is why our air is always smoky and why I have been complaining about it for 5 years now.

North St. Paul was a great place to live in the late 1990s.  Back then there were never any bonfires.  Yard waste burning was rare as well.  We never once had to close our windows because of smoke.  That all changed starting in the early 2000s.  It grew worse with every year.  By 2006 or 2007 the air was smoky every night when the weather was nice with almost no exceptions and yard waste burning which was infrequent became common.  It's like living in hell.  We dread coming home.  Maybe we will get a few hours of fresh air before the smoke starts.  Or like last night, it might start before 5 PM and be heavy all night long.

North St. Paul's air quality is not getting any better.  Every year there are more of those metal firepits and outdoor furnaces.  The burning encourages only more burning.  If the air is going to be smoky every night anyway, why not contribute to it?

While most homes do not burn, I have noticed that the burners tend to cluster together.  I think some of the burners are burning out of vengeance.  One person has a smoky bonfire one night, the next night a neighbor burns yard waste, the next night another neighbor has a smoky bonfire, and so on.  It's a cycle of disrespect that leads to decay and tears apart the social fabric of the city.

There are other problems with North St. Paul.  Next to the city's nightly smoke pollution, two other problems are the conversion of residential homes into rental properties and a lack of home maintenance.  Rundown properties are everywhere you look.  It's shocking to see how formerly well-maintained properties are becoming rundown.  It's almost like people don't care any more.  Being a good neighbor is no longer a consideration people have these days.  That is why they don't concern themselves with blasting their neighbors with thick clouds of smoke pollution.

If you live in the city of North St. Paul and are concerned about this city's smoke pollution problem, I strongly suggest you write a letter detailing your concerns and your issues with asthma and send copies to the mayor and each of the idiot city council members.  They are the only ones with the power to do something about it.  Don't expect much action to be taken.  While the mayor did express some sympathy about this city's wood smoke pollution problem back in 2009, the city council has stood strong in its support of burning and the smoke pollution it produces.  But it never hurts to have one more person complaining.  The only way anything will ever get done is if enough people complain.

But you must also consider the impact that your burning has on those around you, even those living a quarter mile away or more who are breathing the smoke your bonfires produce.  Nobody around you – and I mean NOBODY! – wants to breathe your smoke.  Nobody would choose to breathe your smoke when they could enjoy fresh air.  Nobody closes their windows on beautiful evenings or runs their air conditioner on cool summer nights because they want to.  They do it because they cannot stand to breathe the smoke pollution people like you produce.  Please remember that.