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Combating Illegal Dumping Costing Valley Cities Millions

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WESLACO – Fire hazards are scattered throughout the Rio Grande Valley.  They're often hidden or overlooked.

Emergency responders are asking the community to act responsibly. 

A CHANNEL 5 NEWS viewer pointed us to a large illegal tire dumpsite. The pile of tires is just south of the McAllen International Airport.

Authorities said it’s a problem with hazardous risks. Homeowners in Weslaco know all too well.

"It’s a constant danger because of all the glass; the sun itself could start the fire. It could cross over here, or it could possibly cause some type of illness to the kids,” said Weslaco resident Gloria Chavez.

In March, CHANNEL 5 NEWS reported on a large fire caused by illegal dumping. It was a few feet from Gloria Chavez's front door.

"It happens continuously, sometimes we're outside and you'll see them tossing trash. They don't care if they see us out here they still throw it,” said Chavez.

The irrigation district installed cables to block access to the canal. It worked for a while.  Then things got worse for homeowners.

Now, people are dumping their trash in front of the cable.

Weslaco Fire Department Chief Antonio Lopez said the pile of trash is only about ten feet from a home fence.

Lopez explains these illegal fires caused by dumping force fire crews to use millions dollars’ worth of equipment.

"An illegal fire like this where you might have three or four pieces of equipment out here and an ambulance covering that you'll looking at maybe about $1.5 million worth of equipment to be out to fight a fire like this,” said Lopez.

Chavez wants the illegal dumping to stop.

"I would like for them to at least put some signs that states it’s prohibited or something,” said Chavez.

She wants more protection before a fire like this happens in another city.

The city of McAllen environmental and health code director Steven Katsatos said they are working with inspectors to clean the area.

Katsatos said they don't know when the mess will be cleaned up.

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