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With controlled burn smoke in air, health experts urge caution

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Rochester controlled burn
A controlled burn at Hathaway Tree Service in northwest Rochester.
Rochester controlled burn
A controlled burn at Hathaway Tree Service in northwest Rochester.
Rochester controlled burn
A controlled burn at Hathaway Tree Service in northwest Rochester.



ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- The sky in Rochester has been lit with a blaze, leaving many wondering what has been going on.

It's a controlled burn being conducted by Hathaway Tree Service, but many have been feeling the effects of the burn, as smoke looms through the area, creating some concern.

A recent haze has crept across Rochester.

"There's at least 300 semi loads burning right here," said Richard Cordie, Hathaway Tree Service Owner.

The flames started Wednesday and will continue for another four to five days.

"It's a controlled burn through a permit and what we're trying to do is keep the smoke away from Rochester and the smell. So I apologize if you smell it a little bit," explained Cordie.

The reason for such a long burn? Cordie says efforts to get rid of trees affected by Emerald Ash Borer have contributed to a big pile up at his business and he's left with no other options to get rid of it.

"It's actually a two year process here that we've had, they haven't ground me here in two years," continued Cordie.

He's left to light the pile in the northwest part of town.

"Any time there's pollution in the air, it's going to make it harder for all of us to breathe, but especially those with lung disease," said Dr. David Lowe, an Allergist at Olmsted Medical Center.

The smoke can make things worse for people who already have trouble breathing.

"So cold air in and of itself is an irritant. People who have asthma that go from a warm environment to a cold environment, even if the air is totally pure, can have trouble breathing. So then you couple that with the smoke or the pollution and that makes it even harder," continued Dr. Lowe.

Cordie says he wishes the burn could be put to better use.

"Up in the cities they have got a lot of EAB and a lot of storms come through. It is no longer feasible for people from the cities to drive 70 miles to go in and out of their plant. So, we don't have a bio-fuel here in Rochester and I wish we did because I have a lot of BTUs going up for no reason here," explained Cordie.

He says they're doing their best to keep the smoke away from Rochester, but if the winds blow it into town that's when Dr. Lowe says people might experience respiratory issues and cautions people to stay inside.



Holden Krusemark

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