Stump fire continues, residents frustrated
An unpleasant, smoky odor continues to fill the air alongside Trafalgar Road and nearby residents can’t seem to get any relief.
The fire initially started in early August. Fire chief Steve Sims previously stated that firefighters observed remnants of a controlled burn at the site and, while firefighters are monitoring the situation, a fire truck cannot safely enter the area to fight the fire. Additionally, he said, dumping water into the site could wash ash and any chemicals in the ground into the watershed.
The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality ordered the property owner, Brown’s Tree Care, to cease any dumping at the site, which does not have a permit. The ADEQ also ordered the POA to cease dumping at the west side stump dump as well.
Mayor Peter Christie said that he lives nearby and the smell is indeed unpleasant. Additionally, he said, the fire department has gotten false alarm calls regarding the site.
Police are monitoring trucks hauling brush, he explained, to ensure that no illegal dumping is
taking place with the city’s other stump dump closed.
The lot’s owner has been putting in truckloads of dirt, he said, to attempt to smother the fire.
The Environmental Protection Agency took air samples in late Sept. and there is currently no word back on that, he explained.
“It’s a waiting game,” he said.
Sharon Griffin Squire said via Facebook messenger that the air quality in her neighborhood is intolerable.
“The stench is so strong, so vile, that it burns your eyes, nose, and throat,” she wrote. “Enjoying any sort of outdoor activity is impossible.”
The odor is at its worst, she said, at night and during rainy weather.
Leeroy Millard, who lives on Wrongton Drive on the West side of the former stump dump, said he went out to discuss the ongoing slow burn to get away from the smoke for a while.
“It’s hell,” he said. “Myself and my wife, we have called everybody.”
He said the fire department has explained they cannot do anything to address the issue, he’s called state representatives and others, and thus far nothing has been done.
Millard said it keeps going back to the lot’s owner, who he doesn’t expect will do anything.
He’s concerned, he said, because if the EPA finds toxic chemicals in the air he isn’t sure what will be done and he’s not sure a federal agency will move very quickly.
“If they don’t find anything, we’re dead in the water,” he said.
The smoke is affecting his life every day, he said.
At times it is so intense it leaves his eyes burning and his throat sore, he said.
Millard said he had to buy a pair of air purifiers for his house and he has to keep the windows closed, even on nice days and he can’t spend time outside enjoying the weather or working.
Millard said he thinks the city should have a responsibility to look out for residents in a case like this. Moreover, he said, he thinks the POA, which operated the stump dump before it was closed and, more recently, sold to Brown’s Tree Care, should have some liability because the site was not properly monitored.
“I’m really frustrated,” Millard said. “We’ll be smelling that smoke for three years depending on which way the wind’s blowing. And if we’re not smelling that smoke, somebody else is.”