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Sam Penrod ReportingThe state Division of Air Quality board met today and high on their agenda was last week's out of control prescribed burn. Board members expressed concern over the amount of smoke that affected the state's population center.
A week ago today the air was very smoky, visibility was poor and a health advisory was in effect. The irritation to eyes, lungs and attitudes isn’t gone yet. Today air quality officials invited the Forest Service to their meeting to give an explanation.
At the Air Quality Board's monthly meeting, the smoke moved right up on the agenda. The big question—why a controlled burn near such a high population area?
John Veranth, Division of Air Quality: "Was the prescription followed and are the current prescriptions being written to adequately consider air quality impacts and contingency plans? What is going to happen if the fire goes out of prescription?"
In the hot seat was a representative of the Forest Service who attended to answer the board's questions and concerns.
The division of Air Quality did give the Forest Service the okay to begin the prescribed burn. But approval only went as far as burning the 600 acres last Tuesday. When the fire went out of control, air quality standards suffered serious hazards.
The Air Quality board says it wants to explore its ability in the future to have a bigger say in prescribed burning.
John Vernath, Chair, Utah Air Quality Board: "The agency submits the burn plan, which has all the details. They are responsible for the content. Our rules say the Executive Secretary has the authority to allow the burn or block it."
And plans are being finalized for an independent review board to investigate what went wrong with the prescribed burn. It will get underway later this month and is expected to involve public meetings so residents can express their concerns.