Lawsuit To Be Filed After Bella Vista Stump Dump Causes Health Concerns

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BELLA VISTA, Ark. (KNWA) — A family says a stump dump in Bella Vista is causing people in town to develop health problems, and now they’re filing a lawsuit.

According to the Bella Vista Fire Department, stumps were accidentally ignited underground at the site of a controlled burn. 

A meeting was held this morning at Bailey & Oliver Law Firm in Rogers on Monday for people to learn how the process of filing a suit will work.

“Our goal is stop the fire. How we go about that, or who is our community gets to team up to get that done — that’s the goal,” Sach Oliver, Trial Attorney for Bailey & Oliver said.

It’s a community problem. One neighbors are now starting to take action against.

“If we would of known there was going to be smoke, we wouldn’t have bought the house,” Stump dump neighbor Leroy Millard says.

Curtis Macomber lives down the street from the stump dump.

“With having two kids we can’t just up and leave the area, which we have had to do twice,” Macomber  said.

His child has special needs and he says the smoke blowing into their home is causing health problems for Ezra, 5.

His son’s doctor wrote a note, saying he’s at risk for severe illnesses and exposure to smoke is detrimental to his health.

“She suggested to leave the area for a little bit which we did around the middle of August, and so we did that. He cleared up. We came home and it all started up again,” Macomber explained.

Bailey & Oliver Law Firm says a civil law suit will be filed in the next few days against the Samuel Care Enterprises, Inc., doing business as Brown’s Tree Care.

Brown’s Tree Care owner Cletus Wilkins owns the property just north of the stump dump.

According to the Bella Vista Fire Department, Wilkins accidentally ignited stumps underground at the site through a controlled burn. 

Wilkins invited us to get video of the site today. He says the fire is contained and there is no smoke.

We reached out to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality on Monday.

It says air samples were collected and tested, and once those results are released, the Arkansas Department of Health will complete a risk assessment.

Neighbors of the site say they just want to see and smell a solution.

“Figuring out what is the solution, how do we get there, how do we work together as a community,” Oliver said.

Oliver says the defendant will have an opportunity to respond, and then a discovery phase will begin.

Wilkins also pointed us to an article from the Bella Vista Weekly Vista, which says the POA was ordered to shut down its own separate stump dump because it did not have a permit.

The city of Bella Vista also released this statement: “We too, like the residents, are waiting to hear results from the EPA testing. Hopefully with more information a solution can be found quickly.”

Statement from the ADEQ:

“ADEQ has been in constant contact with the property owner, the POA, and the residents in the adjacent neighborhood.  We have coordinated with the Arkansas Department of Health and Region 6 of the United States Environmental Protection Agency regarding monitoring of the emissions.  Monitoring exercises were conducted on October 2-3 and November 9-10.  During those exercises, air samples were collected and tested for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)  and Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds (SVOCs).  Once the results of the testing by EPA Region 6 are released, the Arkansas Department of Health will complete a risk assessment.”

KNWA also reached out to the EPA, but we did not hear back.

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