Tuesday, July 3, 2007


Hearing strange noises coming from outside early Friday morning, I thought they must be working on our roads, again. My hubby soon left for work (around 6am) while I lay in bed, trying to rest--or fall back to sleep. Around 6:35, I decided to get up and take fido out for an early outing. As soon as we walked out the front door, we ran back inside to grab my camera. There were gigantic plumes of black smoke billowing up into the sky coming from beyond a remote section of my beloved Lowes Creek County Park, which is right across the street from us. Waste Research and Reclamation Environmental Services (WRR) was on fire!

While poochie and I were outside, I heard yet another explosion and the sound of heaving metal. Thankfully for us, the wind was carrying the smoke--and debris—in the opposite direction of our neighborhood in the country, which is maybe half a mile from the plant. Unfortunately, it blew over other residential parts of Eau Claire, necessitating precautionary evacuations, including Pine Meadows Golf Course and Fairfax pool. Highway 93 also was shut down for a total of twelve hours.

We decided to head for the Twin Cities a day earlier than planned after my hubby drove past WRR on 93 following yet another explosion. Witnessing an enormous ball of flames engulfing one of the structures, he promptly called, leaving two messages on our machine: get the kids up and dressed and ready to roll in 15 minutes. As a respiratory therapist, the father of two (mild) asthmatics, and a severe asthmatic himself, he thought it best to play it safe. Our youngest also has chemical sensitivities, so off we drove down the yellow dotted highway, heading for the hills, so to speak.

Thank the Lord, it was all but over by the time we got home, shortly after 6pm. At least the fire and smoke were gone. Unfortunately, the fate of the surrounding area’s land, due to run-off from the thousands of gallons of water used to extinguish the flames, is yet unknown. Firefighters were able to keep the toxic run-off away from Lowes Creek, but a nearby wetland, already suffering from pollutants, wasn’t as fortunate. The DNR is keeping a watchful eye on this for all of us in Eau Claire, which, by the way, is French for “Clear Water”.

Firefighters spent the night at the plant in the event another fire would start. One was later rekindled around 11am Saturday, and they were able to keep it under control. –LKR


Many things about tomorrow

I don’t even understand

But I know Who holds the future,

And I know Who holds my hand.

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