I'm having a problem with my neighbors and I need your advice. They keep having fires even though the smoke is harmful to my mom's health.
Last Friday night, July 5th, my neighbors (and I thought friends) of 20 years were setting off fireworks. My dad, who was in Vietnam, had a flashback and later said "all he knew was that he wanted the sound to stop." Without talking to me or my mom, he went over and told the neighbors that "this immature bullshit has to stop" and also, to move the cars their company had parked on our lawn without asking permission. The first I found out about it was when our doorbell rang apparently seconds after my dad got back, and the father of the family next door lit into my dad about how he doesn't give us crap about the weeds in our yard.
There is a previous issue with this family that has come to a head and since last Friday, has become another fighting point with heated exchanges. My mom lost her lung to cancer two years ago (she never smoked) and is extremely sensitive to the air quality. The neighbors like to have small fires in their firepit several times a week. Last summer I told them how their fires were affecting my mom, and I reiterated it a couple of weeks ago since it's gotten worse - causing her to need nebulizer treatments every hour instead of every 6 hours, the low oxygen making her sleep more, etc. I have also brought it up several times this year. They do not seem to care and have kept having fires.
Open burning of garbage and debris in our county is illegal and I did point that out. They point out there is an exception in the law for small ceremonial bonfires under 2 feet across, using clean wood, which their firepit probably does fall into, but the law also seems to state that exception isn't valid if the fire is a threat to public health. (They are also not burning for any kind of ceremony.) You can read the law here (warning: PDF)
from the Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management
. (Also, although they mostly burn clean wood, I have seen them repeatedly throw pieces of trash into the fire pit... small cardboard boxes, paper plates, etc.)
Wednesday night they had a fire and my mom became severely short of breath. I wasn't sure it was them who was burning because I can't see into their backyard from mine. I tweeted about calling the Indiana Dept of Environmental Management. I also tweeted and asked for nontoxic weedkiller recommendations per their comments about our weeds. Yesterday morning at 8am I got a voicemail from the mother of the family saying that her son had seen my tweets and that any and all tweets about their family needed to stop immediately. I don't want to take my Twitter private because it breaks certain Twitter features. So despite being blocked, they are apparently logging out to read my feed. (And yes, given that my feed is public, I'm not surprised and I know I can't stop them. I don't really care.) The thing is, what are they going to report me for? There's no identifying information and I don't think these tweets constituted harassment. I never used any names - the most identifying piece of info I used was "neighbors" and except for them, ALL of my twitter friends are internet-only friends.
So. How do I rationally get them to stop the burning? I would like to not resort to the police. I could, but I don't want to seem like the mean person here... though I am hurt that 20 years of goodwill has been thrown away over all this. I had a long letter written explaining in detail exactly how their smoke affects my mom and asking them to please reconsider having fires. Another Mefite said I sounded too apologetic, suggested I should just simply state the facts, what I will do and what they could be charged with for harming my mom, and suggested I ask Mefi. What should I say to minimize hostility?
Also, do I really need to worry about what I tweeted? I don't want them making counter-accusations of harassment.