Fire on Staten Island
The view out the window from my childhood bedroom in Staten Island is still the same. to a few more townhouses with tiny yards and tiny round pools, and then a golden field of wetland marshes with a strip of blue of the Atlantic Ocean in near distance. The field surrounded our neighborhood on three sides. On very clear days you could see the New Jersey Shore out my window.
Most kids in New York City don’t get a view like this, or hear the sounds of mockingbirds or red-winged blackbirds in the early spring, and then the chirping of crickets and the peeping of frogs at night in the summertime. But Staten Island kids like me, who grew up at the edge of a field, have their senses filled up with country-like sounds and sights and smells while at the same time living at the dooorstep to the busiest, noisiest city in the world.
This week, on a visit back to Staten Island, I was also reminded of one of the dangers of living so close to a field: brush fires. I remember the orange and the heat and the black smoke of these fires as they wrapped around our neighborhood: my parents and neighbors hosing down their siding when the flames got really close, the black ashes that fell from the sky.
This time, the fire was not near my house but came from inside the notorious site of the former Fresh Kills Landfill. Apparently, the brush that was collected as a result from last summer’s Hurricane Irene ignited because it has been so hot and dry.
This white, acrid-smelling fog filled the island and there was no escape from it. You could even smell it inside the Staten Island Mall.
Luckily, no one was hurt and no houses were damaged. But it gave SI a grim reminder of what smog and smoke they could be facing if the city went ahead with plans to open a waste-to-energy plant around this very spot.