The Arkansas National Guard has been called up to help monitor the Trafalgar Road fire, also known as the ‘stump dump’.
“It’s certainly a step in the right direction,” said Bella Vista resident, Joseph Bollinger.
“I think of war or I think of absolute natural disaster so that’s good because that’s what we’re dealing with is an absolute natural disaster,” said Bella Vista resident, Amber Goin.
The National Guard has been enlisted to conduct additional air quality monitoring around the area.
Residents said they are excited for the much-needed change to air testing.
“I’m not a scientist. I know what I breathe isn’t healthy. I know the air is bad, almost unbearable to breathe,” said Bella Vista resident, Kelly Strain.
“They take an average over a long period of time instead of just saying, [it’s been this bad right now] That’s like going to Western Europe during World War II and saying it’s mostly peaceful when obviously that was not the case,” Bollinger said.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, the 61st Civil Support Team will monitor the area only during the day. Residents say if the problem never stops, neither should testing.
“This situation never sleeps, it never goes away, and it only gets worse and changes. And it’s completely evolving at all times,” said Goin.
“When you have real-time data, citizens are able to make adjustments based on what’s going on at the moment, not what happened two days ago,” Bollinger said.
Director of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Becky Keogh, said “The ADEQ is dedicated to exploring resources to report the most accurate air-quality data to residents. And it is grateful to partner with the national guard to deliver this important information.”
“I can’t buy bottled clean air, I have to have clean air. And no matter how many filters, and no matter how much tape I put around my house, we’re still not safe and we’re still getting sick,” Goin said.
Locals said this time they hope to see a real change.
“I hope we can go on some website or look online like our purple air monitors and go, oh here’s where we’re at today, and I can look at my purple air monitor and go, oh it’s all meshing,” Strain said.
ADEQ’s Full Statement Below:
“ADEQ is dedicated to exploring resources to report the most accurate air-quality data to the residents of Bella Vista. The 61st CST has state-of-the-art, air-monitoring equipment with real-time data collection capabilities. ADEQ is grateful to partner with the Arkansas National Guard to deliver this important information regarding air quality for those impacted by the smoke from the underground fire.”