Residents Near Bella Vista Stump Dump Fire Taking Legal Action As Problem Continues

BELLA VISTA (KFSM) -- A closed stump dump in Bella Vista continues to be a headache for residents living nearby, and those affected say they're now taking legal action to remedy the problem smoke from the underground fire is causing.

People living near the fire say they're concerned about the impact the smoke could have on their health, and the long-term effects it could pose.

"I just want the smoke to stop," a woman who lives near the stump dump, Diana Harm, told 5NEWS.

Harm says her concerns are for more than just herself, "I want a healthy environment again for everyone. Especially the mothers and the kids."

Since the flames started sparking under the surface of the old stump dump last summer, she says she's been mostly confined to her home.

"We've been set aside since August 1. We've been told to stay in our house. We can't open our window, and yet the smoke seeps in through our door when we open it," Harm said.

The stump dump in Bella Vista was used for decades as a place to discard old tree stumps and natural debris, but a lack of monitoring over the years has people worried about what could've been dumped there that could cause contamination.

Attorney Sach Oliver says he wants to help out.

"We realized 'My goodness there are so many people who have been adversely affected by this smoke, and this is not just a scent. This is adversely affecting their daily life inside their homes,'" Oliver told 5NEWS.

Oliver says a lawsuit will be filed against the property owner to contain the problem. One family nearby is behind the charge, but others say they could follow suit.

5NEWS spoke with the stump dump owner back in August.  He said he wasn't sure what was buried underground.

Residents say they plan to hold a public meeting to inform fellow citizens of their plan moving forward.

Samples of the stump dump have been tested by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, but homeowners nearby say they have not seen those results.