A stubborn, smoldering wood debris fire at Route 71 and 4-H Road, on the south side of the Illinois River, is trying the patience of nearby residents.
“When the wind is blowing from that direction, you can smell and taste it. We have to close our windows and we can’t sit on our deck,” said Karen Romano, who lives on the north side of the river, across from the fire.
Romano’s neighbor, Connie Larson, agreed the air in the neighborhood can be acrid and even with windows shut, the smoke seeps inside. She is especially bothered because of her allergies.
A large number of tree limbs, logs and debris have sat at the location for some time. The fire began April 23.
When asked for information about the fire, the Grand Ridge Volunteer Fire Department’s attorney, Matthew Krueger, of Streator, issued a press release Friday that said the fire is contained, but wood continues to intermittently burn and smolder. As a result, La Salle County officials, with help from State Rep. Jerry Long, R-Streator, will apply for disaster relief in the form of earth moving equipment and personnel to kill the fire.
Krueger also said a “burn curtain” may be obtained from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, which is a setup that would help speed up burning and reduce smoke.
The fire prompted a meeting Friday morning attended by Long, State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, and Ottawa and La Salle County officials, as well as representatives from the Grand Ridge and Ottawa fire departments.
Grand Ridge firefighters have put 1.5 million gallons of water on the fire. Officials have not said how the fire began.
A spokeswoman for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency said Friday the agency has visited the site and is reviewing its next steps.