"Bad chemical smell" on Fiesta Island

“A lot of contractors dump wood and furniture in the pits”

Sofa burning
  • Sofa burning
  • Image by Tiffany Bauer

On January 12, Tiffany Bauer and her kitties inhaled a “bad chemical smell” exuding from a nearby fire on Fiesta Island. Bauer looked outside of her window and noticed a burning “sofa” about 100 feet from her parked RV.

“I’m not sure if he’s a regular dumper,” Bauer said, “but his phone number is on the truck.”

That Saturday she pulled out her phone and documented the fire burning about 20 feet away from a guy and his black truck. She then hopped onto Instagram and posted her recently captured photo and video, and captioned them: “[This] really pisses me off! #pollution #polluter #illegaldumping.”

“Nothing surprises me anymore on Fiesta Island,” responded her IG-buddy. “Too bad so much toxic waste occurs there. Maybe if they had an entrance fee to cover cost of full time staff and ticket the losers who are polluting and leaving trash.”

Bauer agrees. She’s been “living the RV life” and “unplugged since December 2016” and frequently posts up on the island which is about a half mile southwest from the Sea World Drive exit off I-5.

“A lot of contractors dump wood and furniture in the [fire] pits,” she said. “People just don’t know that the chemicals (emitted from the burning varnish or paint) are really bad and they think that it is just wood.”

Bauer and her “van-life” buddies try to keep their spots clean between their 6 am to 10 pm permitted stays on the island — but the dumpers-and-burners attract the heat.

“We do get the blame for a lot,” she said, “we aren’t all junkies.”

On January 20 and 21, after our interview, I cruised around the island and noticed over 25 vintage vans and RVs like Bauers; all of them had clean perimeters.

“I pick up a lot of garbage [around the island],” she said, “I saw a skeleton of a rolling cart in the fire pit and threw it in the garbage and yesterday my friend’s little dog brought me a dirty diaper.”

Bauer’s 1990s RV looks standard from the outside; the inside is a whole different story. She has Ikea cabinets up top and vintage Blythe-doll inspired paintings mounted on her stained-wood looking walls. Her other walls are tiled and have pockets to store her art supplies and an Ikea vertical storage container to stash her shoes. Bauer has planters throughout her living confines and her protection is mounted by the side of the doorway. “I’ve had this bat since my softball days in the early 80s,” she said on a recent post, “…. sadly, I have had to use it. It was always floating around in my RV and I wouldn’t be able to find it if I needed it. I always know where it is now. #selfdefense #rvlife #homeiswhereyouparkit.”

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Illegal dumping and fires outside the pits has been going on a long time and it needs to stop. I confronted a contractor doing the same. Probably saves them a lot on dump fees. Air pollution is one problem, the other is the sand is filled with so many rusted nails and screws, it's hazardous to children and pets and anyone barefoot. I'm sick of cleaning up after others and will not take my family there anymore.

It's a shame we allow such a great park resource to to be so neglected. America's finest city my ass! They need to take the beach comber tractors out there and start enforcement.

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