Posted: Nov 26, 2012 6:53 PM
Updated: Nov 26, 2012 9:41 PM
EDINBURG - Rural trash burns are costing Hidalgo County big bucks, officials said.
Edinburg Fire Chief Shawn Snider said more than half of the people in rural Hidalgo County burn their trash. When some of those fires spread it creates a burden for tax payers.
Snider said growth in the county has increased their call load.
"It's just a trash fire. It's just smoking out other people," Snider said.
"What used to be residential homes being from one area to another, half-a-mile away, quarter-a-mile away, eighth-a-mile away now you have subdivisions that are literally one house after another," Snider said.
Snider said it is legal to burn trash, if it is done properly. Once the department is called to douse flames it becomes a nuisance call, he said.
"Ultimately, it's a cost to the tax payers because we're charging a rural-fire rate every time we do that," Snider said.
Snider said it costs from $125 to more than $1,000 each time they respond to a rural fire. He said they respond to two or three calls a week.
Procupio Garcia has lived in rural Hidalgo County for the past 18 years. He said many of his neighbors burn their trash.
He said the fire department often responds to calls in his area.
Garcia said he takes his trash to the dump rather than burn it.
Garcia said he is willing to pay a fee to have trash-collection service in his area.
Snider also said there needs to be an alternative to burning.
Hidalgo County officials said they are considering curb-side collection service.
The county also has several sites where residents can take their refuse.