Eureka non-profit tackles hazardous garbagein public places


EUREKA, Calif. - Trash that's left on the street or sidewalks can be a burden to people in the neighborhood, but Eureka officials said some items left in the open can become a serious hazard.

Humboldt Bay Fire and Eureka Police Officers responded to an abandoned camper on fire Monday night, sitting on an empty lot in the corner of Church and Pine Streets. But firefighters quickly contained the flames.

Sergeant Ed Wilson was at the scene and said, "The danger is, the more it sits there and it gets filled with combustibles and then somebody comes and does what they did tonight. Luckily it was found early enough and the fire was put out."

Wilson said that leaving large items out in the open can attract negative attention. He said it becomes a target for people who are looking to vandalize property or someone who is simply tired of staring at it.

Eureka City Councilwoman Kim Bergel said there's no need for people to leave items in an empty lot.

"The truth is that Recology Humboldt County will come and get your bulky item," said Bergel.

A less bulky items that are causing serious problems are hypodermic needles that are left scattered on the sidewalks.

Bergel said she has a couple of ideas she wants to introduce for tackling the needle problem.

"Anyway we can track and find out where those needles are coming from and have more accountability," said Bergel.

And as city employees strategize for solutions, an employee at Pacific Outfitters in Eureka inspired his co-workers and boss to do the right thing.

Aaron Ostrom is co-owner of Pacific Outfitters. He said one of his employees would go out and pick-up trash on his own. Ostrom said he was hooked and started a trash pick-up group.

"So we figured let's combat that head on and let's start a group that picks up garbage 60 minutes a week every Saturday," said Ostrom.

The group turned into the Pac Out Green Team. They are now a non-profit and Ostrom said they have picked up over 200,000 pounds of garbage.

"Anything from household appliances, to household garbage, to grow trash, to abandoned homeless camps," said Ostrom.

Ostrom said he has seen an increase in needles while he is out cleaning the streets.

"Well we focus on parks and beaches and places where people play and that's where we're finding these needles and now we have to be careful going out to these places where we enjoy nature," added Ostrom.

Ostrom said they will meet at 9 a.m. to clean the Fernbridge area on Saturday, October 7.