Cully neighbors want answers at neighborhood meeting following fire

State Sen. Lew Frederick (standing) speaks during a Cully Neighborhood meeting Tuesday, a day after smoke from a burning scrap yard invaded the area. (KATU Photo)

A day after black smoke swallowed up the Cully neighborhood when a scrap yard caught fire, many living in the area are concerned with what's falling from the sky.

Not only did Maryanne O'Leary say she had trouble breathing Monday, but now she has to clean up toxic chemicals off her property.

"It's on everything. It's oily, it's sticky, and it doesn't come off very easily," said O'Leary. "We're organic gardeners and we're not going to be able to use the ground for a year."

Neighbors felt helpless in their own homes. They hoped for answers at a Cully Neighborhood meeting Tuesday night.

"We went to the house and it smells really bad. How long is it supposed to smell bad for? Are we supposed to open the windows to let air in? Is that worse than keeping the smell?" said Lisa Troncoso, who lives across the street from the fire.

State Sen. Lew Frederick wants to open a discussion with Oregon legislators to figure out what's in the air.

"We don't know. We haven't been monitoring it; we don't know where it's coming from; we don't know how many things are combined," said Frederick.

The Environmental Protection Agency says crews started monitoring at 1 p.m. Monday. As it got darker, the winds shifted and drove hazardous particulates closer to the ground and into people's homes.

Then there's the problem with oversight. Many wondered how this even happened. Neighbors said they've made complaints about the amount of cars piling up in the scrap yard, but nothing was done.

"Everybody's saying, 'We don't know.' That's the problem: no one knows," said Troncoso.

"I didn't know who to call or what to do. I just want to help the neighborhood so this doesn't happen again," said O'Leary.

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