West Richland Debris Fire Nearly Out
Two weeks ago, the debris pile was in flames. Now, only a small bit of smoke is visible, allowing neighbors to get back to their normal lives.
"I'm really glad it's out because sleeping at night I was coughing, I had a hard time breathing," said Craig Bolyard, a neighbor.
"We slept low to the ground just to try to keep the smoke level down."
Last week, the Benton County Clean Air Authority ordered Joanne Ryan to put out the fire or face fines, and she responded, placing sprinklers on the area and surrounding the fire with a moat.
After a visit this morning, they say the situation is fully under control.
"Our goal was just to get the smoke abated and the neighbors protected from the smoke that's coming from it. And the smoke is pretty much non-existent at the moment," said David Lauer, Executive Director of the Benton County Clean Air Authority.
The burning land is usually used to make wood chips, and while neighbors are angry with Ryan, some think she handled the situation properly.
"We've seen her out there several times with the hose, or, you know, walking around using equipment trying to keep the fire under control," said Janean Campbell, a neighbor.
The smoke raised health concerns for some neighbors who were already on oxygen machines, but no one reported any significant health problems created by the fire.
Authorities plan on continuing to monitor the fire, but say they can't foresee it flaring up again anytime soon.