Hartselle residents speak out after smoky conditions in town

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HARTSELLE, Ala. – Some Hartselle residents are left with questions after smelling smoke in the air for over 2 weeks.

“It’s like a dirty ash tray, it’s very sickening to your stomach,” Hartselle resident Laurie Boardman said.

Boardman has lived in Hartselle for 19 years. She said living on Peach Orchard Road, less than a mile from the city landfill has never been a huge issue, until recently, when a brush pile suddenly ignited.

“The smoke has been coming through my vents. It creates a layer of smoke at the top of my ceiling. I have had to go out and buy an air purifier just to clean the inside air of my own home,” she said.

Hartselle Mayor Randy Garrison released a statement Monday Afternoon confirming the fire started on February 13th and has been burning ever since.

The statement says the city understands the public’s concern, but, “no hazardous materials are involved. As stated, this only involves the brush pile, which consists solely of all-natural plant material.” It went on to read that the city “acting diligently, but prudently in resolving the situation with the guidance and advice of ADEM.”

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management confirmed to News 19 they are investigating the cause of the fire, but add it’s tough to put out fires ignited in the center of these compacted piles.

The smoky smell in the air has been impacting business in town. One shop owner said in addition to business being slow since the smoke filled the air, she’s worried about her inventory.

“A lot of us have soft goods, foods, clothing, that odor permeates the material as well as the inside of the building,” Melissa Bright said.

Bright owns Whinny Wisdom in downtown Hartselle, a little less than a mile from the land fill. She fears the aroma will not only damage her goods, but her health as well.

“As a lung cancer survivor, this very much impacts me and how I feel for the health of everyone,” Bright said.

The Mayor says the goal is to have the fire extinguished by the end of next week.

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