Knoxville (April 16, 2012) — Monday morning, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero met with Knox County Health Department Director Dr. Martha Buchanan, Knoxville Emergency Management Agency Director Alan Lawson and Knoxville Fire Chief Stan Sharp to discuss the status of the mulch fire burning near downtown.
Based on Knox County Air Quality data, Monday has been designated as Red Alert air quality day in Knoxville and Knox County. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the following groups should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion: people with heart or lung disease, and children and older adults. Everyone else should limit prolonged or heavy exertion.
Members of the public who live or work in the area should remain inside with windows and doors shut, according to Dr. Buchanan. According to Knoxville Fire Department Captain D.J. Corcoran, it is okay to leave your air conditioning running. If possible, he says, it is ideal to turn your outside air intake off and switch your AC unit to re-circulating mode. Health officials say air conditioning units will help filter the air inside your home. Any citizen without air conditioning may go the Red Cross Chapter House at 6921 Middlebrook Pike.
Mayor Burchett has contacted Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Robert Martineau’s office to request additional temporary air quality monitoring and testing stations.
“The health and well being of our citizens is the most important thing in this situation, and I’ve instructed my staff to do everything they can to ensure that public safety is not compromised,” Mayor Burchett said.
“We are working with several agencies to ensure the safety of all our citizens,” said Mayor Rogero. “And we will continue to monitor the progress being made.”
The Knox County Schools have consulted with the health department and appropriate precautions have been taken at schools that are near Shamrock Organics. The school system will continue to monitor the situation closely and make adjustments as needed.
Mayor Burchett and Mayor Rogero will continue to receive updates on the situation from the health department, KEMA, KFD and other departments dealing with the various aspects of the mulch fire.