Weeks after powerful winds, West Plains, Mo. city crews are still burning brush

WEST PLAINS, Mo. -- Just over two weeks ago, strong winds brought down trees and did quite a bit of damage in West Plains. City crews have been busy burning that brush out in this heat. Thanks to a machine, the burning process has been sped up.

For weeks, people have been bringing their brush and debris from that storm to the city's solid waste transfer station. That storm debris is then taken to the city's old landfill. The city says it's had a total of 110 truck loads of storm debris brought to the landfill to be burned.

"We've been out here for two weeks, solid, everyday from 6 to 4:30. It's been just very hot. We're trying to keep ourselves hydrated. You know, we've got guys running chainsaws out here everyday," John Barnett exclaimed.

The six man crew is taking extra water breaks under a tarp, where it's shaded.

There was so much brush, the city has had to rent a pit burner to help burn the brush faster and keep the amount of smoke down.

"The pit burner is a 30 by 10 by 10 foot deep pit, that we'll start up in the morning, Barnett said. It's usually eating one to two tons an hour, depending on the size of the brush. Brush is burning up real quick, but the logs are taking a little bit longer. It's really putting a big dent in the amount of brush we had on the lot."

Without the pit burner, the crews would have to burn the piles the normal way and would have to put the fire out before 4:00 PM each day.

"It's forcing air into the fire to make it super hot so it's burning quicker, Barnett added. As you can tell, there's very little smoke. That's what we're looking for."

The city's transfer station is still accepting brush, but at a price.

"The last time I've seen this much brush, was probably back in 2009 when we had an ice storm. Now we are charging for the brush. It's a five dollar charge for the first 500 pounds. After the 500 pounds, it's a penny a pound," Brent Lidgard told KY3.

Crews expect to continue burning the brush for at least the next few weeks.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.