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Unusual Fire Will Cost Arkansas $1M to Put Out

It's been burning underground since July
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 31, 2018 10:37 AM CST
Stock image. The underground fire in Arkansas has been burning since July.   (Getty/Pattadis Wallarput)

(Newser) – It seemed like a run-of-the-mill call for firefighters in Arkansas back in July: Residents of Bella Vista had reported what appeared to be a brush fire in the woods. Five months later, that fire is still smoldering, and the resultant smoke has been deemed a safety hazard for those in the neighborhood, reports Arkansas Online. The reason for the firefighting challenge? Turns out, the fire is burning underground, perhaps as deep as 60 feet. On Friday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson committed nearly $1 million of state money to try to put it out once and for all.

"This is an expensive project, and it's going to deplete the fund we have set aside," Hutchinson said. For about 13 years, the site had been leased by the local property owners' association and used as a dumping ground for tree stumps. The site was covered in soil in 2016 and is now owned by a tree care company. Apparently, however, those stumps underground caught on fire, and firefighters can't put it out without a major engineering effort. The EPA has monitored air in the vicinity and designated it "unhealthy," reports KARK. Anyone within a half-mile is advised to avoid being outside for too long and to skip any kind of heavy exertion while outdoors. (Read more Arkansas stories.)

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