Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A burning pile of mulch -- no more

It's official: that great big pile of mulch in Helotes that has been burning since Christmas has finally been put out.

From the Express-News:

The Helotes debris fire is finally out after three months and at a cost of about $5.5 million, officials announced today.

State officials say they'll continue for a while to monitor aquifer conditions and will oversee the landowner's efforts to clean up the mess left behind but expect no lasting impact to the Edwards Aquifer.


Dozens of people who had been staying in hotel rooms paid for by Bexar County to escape the smoke for health reasons were cleared to return home for the first time since Jan. 6, officials said.

That's good news, but the fire should have been put out sooner. I understand why the San Antonio Water System was reluctant to allow water to be put on the fire (they didn't want the Edwards Aquifer, San Antonio's primary source of drinking water, to get contaminated), but their stalling dragged out the process, and the mayor of Helotes sure wasn't happy about his town smelling like a great big smoke pit for so long. And the state officials came out looking pretty inept in the handling of the whole situation.

I hope they've learned some lessons and can make better emergency decisions in the future. After all, there are more piles around.

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