Lawton’s Downtown Crematory Occasionally Smells Like Burger King
It may be a controversial and somewhat insensitive thing to say, but sometimes when the crematory in Downtown Lawton fires up the oven, it fills the air with the scent reminiscent of Burger King.
All in all, flame-broiled is flame-broiled.
If you've never traveled through the downtown area when that thick black smoke is rolling coal in a blanket that encompasses every square inch of space within a few blocks, consider yourself lucky.
I think the normal human reaction to realizing what is happening is a feeling of morbidity. As if you realize that some sad, poor souls are saying their last goodbye to a loved one, but they're still here, swirling with the wind in a manner you can see and smell.
Out of curiosity, I looked up how hot the fire has to be to do what crematories do... Anywhere between 1400°-1800° Fahrenheit. Hot enough to melt a lot of metals and alloys, but not hot enough to melt the steel these ovens are made of.
I was also curious how hot fire would have to be in order to be smokeless, that threshold is about 1000° Fahrenheit... So why the thick black smoke from time to time?
Another quick Google search revealed that the occasional plumes of thick black smoke are just a natural and inevitable occurrence of the crematory.
There have been times downtown where the smoke was so thick, it was momentarily dark outside in the middle of a sunny day. In casual conversation, I know it used to drive some of the firefighters crazy, having to constantly wash the residue from their vehicles as parking for the old downtown firehouse was directly next to and under the chimney.
Worse, if you remember basic science class, you know that smoke is particulate of unburnt matter. The more you think about it, the worse it gets.
As if that wasn't bad enough, we've had this conversation inside the station many times over the years and come to one freaky conclusion... More often than not, when the crematory fires up to do what it was designed to do, the smell overwhelmingly reminds some of us of the way the french fries taste at Burger King.
Sometimes you'll catch a whiff and lose your appetite, other times you'll start craving those fries. It's a somewhat worrying thing and enough to make a person wonder if there's some deep inset desire to cannibalize a fellow human... Real Texas Chainsaw Massacre-type thoughts.
Over the fifteen years I've been here, I've met people that have talked to the City of Lawton about it... perhaps an idea to schedule these somber events for after regular business hours, but the city has no official rule on the books and there's really no ladder to climb on the subject.
The US Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for pretty much all of the regulations when it comes to burning stuff as a business in America. States, counties, and cities also get their own say in these regulations too. Interestingly and respectfully, nobody classifies human remains as "solid waste," er-go, the same laws that regulate acceptable particulate size and emissions from similar burning operations don't apply to crematoriums.
It would be hard and completely heartless to suggest we collectively reclassify the departed as "solid waste."
As nice as it would be to not encounter this occurrence at any point throughout the day, it would probably be empathetically thoughtless to ask the city to place a specified "hours of legal operation" regulation on these activities. After all, it can't be an easy thing to go through for those saying goodbye... I personally feel they have the right to choose when that time is right.
Maybe the answer is something to be addressed going forward for future Lawtonians. Perhaps reclassifying crematoriums into the same space as strip clubs and firework stands... The existing ones catch a grandfather clause to remain until they either close or the ovens wear out beyond repair... any new or updated business in that space must then exist outside city limits.
I don't want you to get the idea I think these businesses should close, that's not what this is. I'm just trying to offer an unbias solution from both sides of the fence. I'm curious what you think.
While you type up an email to Kelso@Z94.com to share your thoughts, I think I'm gonna go satisfy a craving that's popped up in the last 800 words... a Bacon Double King, fries, and a Hershey pie sound really good about now.