MEMPHIS, Tenn. — An arson investigation is underway in Trumann, Arkansas, after fire officials say someone intentionally set a field on fire where debris from last year’s tornado is being held.
The Trumann Fire Department said this incident was the second fire that was intentionally set over the past few weeks.
Investigators say the fire was set around 10:30 last night here along Oak Street.
Trumann does not have a landfill. After December’s tornado, they converted this space into one. Months later, most of the debris remains. Friday night, someone set a fire there for the third time.
“This could have been much worse, and it could have been on the other side over here,” said Mayor Barbara Lewallen. “So, we’re going to really have to really watch it.”
Crews stayed out here for four hours battling the blaze. Then they made the decision to just control the fire rather than put it out due to the weather and hazardous material located in the field.
However, they did return Saturday morning and attempted to extinguish it, but there still are a few hot spots burning.
“It is frustrating because you’re trying to do your best to help people who have already had problems because of the tornado and storm and getting rid and now we have this creating more problems for these people,” Lewallen said.
The mayor also said they are still in process of trying to coordinate with the state and get the debris removed. The biggest challenge they face is lack of funding.
“Our job as a city is provide services to the best of our availability,” Lewallen said. “Cities are service industries and of course as a service industry we do everything we can. We’re limited by budget, by manpower by what we can actually do.”
Despite smoke smoldering across the community, the fire department said they have been monitoring the air quality and there are no reports of toxic fumes in the air.
While plans are in the works to push the state for more assistance and upgrade security around the landfill, residents like Mika Swindle just want to see this get resolved.
“I hope this gets them to moving a little bit faster to figure out ways to eliminate it, because it’s gone from one health issue for people around area, like for us, but now it’s affecting more people,” Swindle said.
Investigators are searching for a possible suspect.