Smoke from burning debris ignites tempers of residents

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -- The contractor working for the city is burning the debris.  The fires were put out Monday.  Apparently smoke from the fire ignited the tempers of residents who live near the landfill.

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality put a stop to the burning earlier this week asking for a new proposal from the city and county before the fires could be restarted.  A big concern for residents near Legacy Landfill is the smoke that is put off from the fire they say interferes with their lives.

"The smoke, it depends on how the wind is blowing, will be super heavy or you'll always have the smell of smoke," said Tammy Farmer.

Farmer lives near the landfill where over 300,000 cubic yards of debris from Jonesboro are piling up.

"You can't stay out and do anything because the smoke is so bad and it's even on Saturday and Sunday it doesn't stop," said Farmer.

Strong winds and a fire that got out of hand on Monday led the ADEQ to step in at Legacy Landfill and stop the burning until the city gave them a better plan.  One change the city will make is when they burn.

The new plan calls for D & J Contractors to check with the National Weather Service for wind speed and direction at least once a day.  Public Works Director Erick Woodruff wants them to take it a step further.

"I've requested that they do it every four hours to prevent smoke blowing towards the county residents," said Woodruff.

They also plan to use so-called "air curtains" to reduce the smoke.

"What the air curtain does, it provides more air for the fire which will make a cleaner burning fire which will eliminate a lot of the smoke," said Woodruff.

Farmer doesn't want to see the smoke rising above her house again, but she and her family will deal with it when it comes.

"We have a life here too and this is where our families live and this is where I've grown up.  Until you're affected by it you really don't care," said Farmer.

Woodruff said he doesn't see the smoke being a problem anymore with the new plan they will follow.

They did submit the new plan on Friday and they hope to start burning the debris again next week.