Officials say Arkansas underground dump fire has gone out

Officials say a northwestern Arkansas underground dump fire that's been burning for nearly a year has been extinguished

BELLA VISTA, Ark. -- Officials say a northwestern Arkansas underground dump fire that has been burning for nearly a year has been extinguished.

Bella Vista's Property Owners Association said Tuesday on its website that no fire, smoke or elevated surface temperature readings could be detected, indicating that the fire went out at the former unlicensed dump. It also said a drone flight confirmed there were no hot spots burning above ground.

The fire had been burning in Bella Vista, about 170 miles (274 kilometers) northwest of Little Rock, since last July, and residents have complained of respiratory issues and noxious smoke for months.

Air quality readings by federal and state regulators were mostly "good" or "moderate" for most of the time the fire was burning. One reading from the Environmental Protection Agency returned an "unhealthy" level in December, prompting the Arkansas Department of Health to issue a health alert warning residents against "prolonged" outdoor exposure.

In May, when firefighting and containment began in earnest, the Property Owners Association said they expected the smoke to increase and air quality levels to decrease. The Property Owners Association said residents "need to be prepared for a minimum of unhealthy levels or higher."

Despite disruptive weather, the association was able to extinguish the fire within 30 days, according to its plan. It took responsibility for the fire cleanup and previously said it would cost about $4 million.

The association operated the site as a so-called "stump dump" and allowed residents to dispose of organic material there. It was never licensed by the state and inspectors said they found non-organic material there. On Tuesday, the association said no hazardous materials were found at the site, although workers did find tires, a mattress and pieces of metal.