Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Leticia Van de Putte

For Immediate Release
January 12, 2007
Contact: Tiffany Champion, (210) 733-6604

E-News from the Office of Senator Van de Putte

Dear Friend,

I am writing to update you on the mulch fire in Helotes. As you may know, the Metropolitan Health District recently issued a health advisory statement on the Helotes fire, which has been burning since December 23, 2006.

As both a health care professional and a public official, I feel this is a situation which needs to be resolved promptly. Therefore, I contacted the Governor's office to ask that he intervene and utilize state resources to put out this fire quickly. I am thankful to Governor Perry for his intervention with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to eradicate the fire.

I am pleased to share that the TCEQ has contracted with a private company (Oil Mop LLC of Pasadena) that specializes in these procedures and that they are currently on location beginning environmentally safe measures to contain and extinguish this fire by January 24th. The contractor is already making significant progress in extinguishing the mulch fire in Helotes.

Current timelines call for crews to continue work through the weekend in order finish the job on schedule. Estimates are that 90% of the fire should be contained by the close of next week. As operations begin, large amounts of smoke, steam and ash may be emitted sporadically, but the emissions will diminish over the following days. By Tuesday there should be a considerable reduction in smoke and ash.

Runoff from the firefighting efforts will be encapsulated in a retention pond, and will be recycled back in to the firefighting efforts. The Edwards Aquifer Authority has agreed this method is the most efficient way to control seepage. At this time no chemicals are being used, but the TCEQ is working to evaluate the use of an approved chemical fire suppressant, which will not harm the Edwards Aquifer. The TCEQ, Bexar County and Metro Health will continue to provide information on the progress of this operation.

Northside ISD will close Krueger Elementary, Helotes Elementary and O'Connor High School this Tuesday. All school activities and sporting events to be held on these campuses will also be cancelled or relocated. At this time no other schools have cancelled classes for Tuesday, but please stay in tune to the news as this is subject to change. For more information on closures, please call (210) 397-8500 or visit www.nisd.net.

Please take precautions during the upcoming week as unfortunately conditions will get worse before they get better. Take care of each other.

Sincerely,

Leticia

HOW TO CONTACT SENATOR VAN DE PUTTE
District Office
700 N. St. Mary's St. #1725
San Antonio, Texas 78205
(210) 733-6604
(210) 733-6605 - fax
leticia.vandeputte@senate.state.tx.us

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