BELLA VISTA, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — On July 18, a multi-million dollar settlement was reached on behalf of Bella Vista residents that sued after tree stumps in the city were accidentally ignited underground at the site of a controlled burn in 2018.
Attorney Sach Oliver, representing the plaintiffs, announced the $6,300,000 settlement in an email to KNWA/FOX24.
“We are thankful the fire was extinguished, and justice has been served,” he wrote. “Our prayer is for the Bella Vista Community to move forward in peace with a healthy environment and community.”
The suit was filed against Samuel Care Enterprises, Inc., doing business as Brown’s Tree Care, after Bella Vista citizens began to develop health problems following the “stump dump.” A multitude of cross-defendants were eventually added to the civil suit.
In 2021, a settlement of $3 million was reached in a separate lawsuit filed against a Property Owners Association (POA) involving the same issue. That suit noted that the fire burned for almost a year before it was put out by the POA.
According to the City of Bella Vista, a controlled burn of a brush pile accidentally ignited the stumps underground. The city says the brush fire happened on a piece of property belonging to Cletus Wilkins, the owner of Brown’s Tree Care.