Stump fire con­tin­ues, res­i­dents frus­trated

The Weekly Vista - - Front Page - KEITH BRYANT

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.”

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