Three months after it began, back on Christmas day last year, the Great Helotes Mulch Fire has finally entered the history books. The several inches of rain we've had in the last few days probably didn't hurt. I believe March has been the rainiest month in south Texas since November 2004. Mother Nature decided to end the debate about whether to use water on the mulch fire once and for all.
Now comes the cleanup:
Helotes Mayor Jon Allan, whose repeated squawking about the smoky blaze led the state to act, said the air is clearer but the situation is not resolved.
"The smoke and ash are gone and the air quality has gone way up, but let's face it, it still smells bad in some areas because it's like a wet ashtray," Allan said. "It's not that it's a health hazard. It just smells bad. We need to get the rest of the stuff moved off there so we don't have a problem again."
Steve Clouse, vice president of production and treatment operations for the San Antonio Water System, also said he's relieved the fire is out but that the project's not over until the site is cleaned up.
After seven aquifer wells were contaminated with firefighting runoff, Clouse is concerned about the continuing potential for pollution of the region's primary water source.
"The fire may be out, but until they remediate the site the threat to the wells in that area remains," Clouse said.
Meanwhile, Roddy Stinson of the Express-News lets us know about smaller, but still large, mulch piles--"Sons of Mulchie"--scattered throughout the area. Fortunately, he reports, none appear to be directly in the Edwards aquifer recharge zone.