101 Town Center, P.O. Box 5655, Bella Vista, AR 72714 (479)876-1255

Trafalgar Road/Stump Dump info

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Trafalgar Road stump dump information page

This is an informational page for the burning stump dump situation happening on the east side of the city. Please remember this area is private property and the unstable ground is very dangerous. The public should not attempt to access the area for any reason. Scroll to the bottom of this page for Arkansas Department of Health resources and other contact information. 

Current updates:

December 6, 2018 - We received this information from the EPA this afternoon:

"None of EPA’s air samples showed elevated concentrations of chemicals of concern in the community. In support of ADEQ, EPA collected 24-hour air samples from 5 locations in the community around the Brown Tree Service property on October 1 and November 10. EPA tested for hundreds of chemicals associated with landfill fires potentially containing construction debris, household waste or tires.

In addition to the community samples, EPA collected samples from 1 location within the Brown Tree Service property, and on November 10 found a Benzene concentration of 0.03 part-per-million (ppm). Brief exposure (5-10 minutes) to very high levels of benzene in the air (10,000 – 20,000 ppm) can result in death, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Lower levels (700 to 3,000 ppm) can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rat, headaches, tremor, confusion and unconsciousness. In most cases, people will stop feeling these effects when they are no longer exposed and begin to breathe fresh air.
EPA agreed to collect additional air samples, including particulates, in all locations next week. This data will help scientists and decision-makers better determine if the stump dump contains dangerous chemicals. EPA sampling is scheduled to begin on Monday, December 10 and will include three days of sampling. Quality assured sampling data is expected to be received by EPA on December 21, 2018 and will be shared as soon as possible.

EPA agreed to secure an experienced fire expert to advise the state and community regarding the properties of the current fire and recommendations on preferred options to extinguish the underground fire quickly and with the lowest possible environmental and public health consequences.

EPA agreed to provide scientific expertise to assist ADEQ in determining which benzene-sensing technology is available should the state decide an early warning detection system is needed."

November 30, 2018 - The results of the EPA air quality testing can be found on the ADEQ’s website here: https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/news/detail/statement-on-bella-vista-air-monitoring-preliminary-findings .

November 29, 2018 —
After a resident spoke Monday night at the City Council meeting about the Arkansas Forestry Commission coming to cut a fire break below the stump dump, we asked Fire Chief Sims (who has been in Indiana this week inspecting our newly remounted ambulance and returned today) to check in with the commission.  Sims has been in contact with the commission's lead ranger in Benton County since the start of the situation in August, and they have previously discussed the possibility of dozing the perimeter if necessary closer to the springtime, when fire danger increases and prior to summer heat and humidity. The forestry ranger said that they may plan to come in sooner to cut the fire break. No date has been set for this yet. This is NOT because there is elevated risk of the fire spreading beyond the area currently burning, but rather a precaution.

It is important for residents to understand our role in this situation. It is our job to make sure the most appropriate people are involved. The most appropriate agency is the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, which has been involved since the beginning. That is the state-level agency that has authority over this issue. It also has the necessary personnel with training and knowledge to deal with this environmental situation. The ADEQ is getting close to having the information needed in order to discuss a plan for mitigation. The conversations with lawmakers this week have been in preparation to talk about these options, and specifically to discuss who has the funds to cover the millions of dollars it will likely take to fix it. 

November 27, 2018 -
Mayor Christie spoke with Congressman John Boozman's office, who said they would contact the EPA to express the need for quick results plus an action plan. He also spoke with Senator Jim Hendren, who said he will contact Sen. Tom Cotton's office tomorrow, along with the director of ADEQ. Hendren said he also plans to discuss this with Governor Hutchinson tomorrow. 

November 26, 2018
 — City Council meeting Nov 27East side residents addressed City Council members during the November regular meeting about what could be done to mitigate this situation. The mayor is still waiting on results from the EPA air quality testing, and will know more when those results arrive.

Stump dump Nov 9

November 9, 2018
— The EPA set up testing sites for the second round of air quality testing. They will have tested 10 total locations between the first round and second round. They say it will be toward the end of November before any results are returned. Measurements today found some areas underground are burning at more than 800 degrees.

September 28, 2018 — The city has been working closely with the ADEQ, who has been working with the EPA out of Texas.  The EPA has requested to use city property as a location to do air quality testing, in addition to the stump dump property if necessary. Mayor Christie has signed an agreement to allow this. We have not been provided dates or times when testing will be done, but have requested the ADEQ notify us when testing is complete. We have not observed any additional burning on the property, and any smoke that can be seen or smelled from the property is the result of the fire that remains below ground. We continue to monitor this situation daily.

September 17, 2018 — The ADEQ has an active case on the stump dump fire, and is working on enforcement actions at this time. We learned today they will be involving the EPA this week, which can step in to mitigate the situation if they deem it to be reaching certain hazardous levels. If not, the responsibility remains with the property owner to resolve the problem

Stump dump Aug 24August 24, 2018 — The fire at the former stump dump off Trafalgar Road continues to burn. We understand this has been an unfortunate and bothersome situation for homeowners in that area. The responsibility for this situation lies with the property owner, who has been working with the ADEQ to mitigate the situation. The ADEQ – Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality – gave the property owner options on how to put the fire out. We have been in contact with the ADEQ throughout this process to be sure something is being done to resolve the issue. As of Friday afternoon, there was very little smoke still coming from the area. The area of the stump dump is a watershed to Lake Ann. While we, or anyone, can’t be sure what is still burning underground, flowing water through there would risk groundwater contamination, without proper control measures in place. Our Fire Chief advises residents to stay inside as much as possible if they are bothered by smoke in the air. Also, run your air conditioner in your home to help filter the air.

August 3, 2018 — We were fortunate to get some cool drone footage of the fire this afternoon. Obviously, it’s still burning, and it will likely continue to do so for a while, but it's not looking like it wants to spread. Some things we want you to know:
• First and most importantly – this area is EXTREMELY unsafe due to the ground being very unstable. DO NOT try to get close to this fire. There is no way for us to safely get personnel or equipment to this fire. We WILL NOT risk the lives of our firefighters when the best thing for this fire is to let it burn itself out.
• If you don’t physically see us out there, it doesn’t mean we aren’t watching this fire closely. We are highly trained and staffed around the clock, so even if it’s 2 a.m. and something happens, we will be there and we will know what to do.
• While we have heard that an environmental agency has been out to the site, we are not at all involved in that process. Whatever happens with that is between the property owner and the agency. If, however, there is a situation the residents need to know about, you will know.
• This is actually the best time of year for something like this to happen. Fire doesn’t like lush, green forests in hot, humid climates. If this fire were to spread beyond the perimeter it’s already made for itself, it would burn very slowly.

August 1, 2018 — We are aware of the heavy smoke on the east side of the city off Traflagar. The former stump dump is on fire underneath the ground. There is no safe way at this time for us to put out the fire. The heat and smoke are escaping through the cracks in the ground. This area is unsafe, do not go near the fire. We will continue to monitor what the fire does.

On July 29, 2018, the Bella Vista Fire Department received a request for a smoke check at the Trafalgar stump dump. The caller reported smoke coming from or near the stump dump area. When we arrived at the stump dump, we did observe smoke coming from the stump dump area, along with remnants of a large brush fire that was still smoking. The fire was controlled and away from all structures or wooded areas. At that time, we left the scene and continued to monitor it throughout the day. (Read fire report here.)

The land formerly used as a POA stump dump is located off Trafalgar Road near the intersection with Commonwealth Road. According to county records, property is currently owned by BTS Equipment, LLC, who purchased the land from Blue Mountain Storage in January 2018. Blue Mountain Storage purchased the land in 2015 from Fredericks Construction. The city does own, however, a one-acre parcel adjacent to the stump dump property, which we purchased in 2018 and on which we are currently constructing a salt and sand storage facility for the east side winter street maintenance. This one-acre parcel was never part of the stump dump and is solid ground.

The stump dump operation was closed Dec. 31, 2016.

Contact information and resources:
Those who are affected by this fire at any time can consult their own private attorney regarding this situation, and those with health concerns can also contact the Arkansas Department of Health - 800-462-0599 or https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/.

You can report additional complaints directly to the ADEQ by calling 888-233-0326 or online at https://www.adeq.state.ar.us/complaints/

From the Arkansas Health Department:
Indoor air filtration fact sheet
Protect yourself from ash fact sheet
Protecting children from wildfire smoke and ash fact sheet
Reducing health risks from wildfire smoke and ash fact sheet
Reduce your smoke exposure face sheet
Respiratory protection fact sheet