Displaced Residents Demand Hydrants after Weekend Fire
DONNA – A Hidalgo County family is homeless after a fire destroyed everything they owned over the weekend.
Fire crews worked as fast as possible to contain the blaze at the house on Olivarez Street Sunday afternoon.
Donna Emergency Management Coordinator George Garrett said three alarms responded to the home including a tanker truck.
“The fire department informed me that the fire started as an electrical short,” Garrett said.
Elfa Moreno said her daughter and four grandchildren made it out okay, but the family dog did not.
The family said they're now questioning whether the response could have been better if there had been fire hydrants close to the house.
“I think that maybe if a fire hydrant had have been here close by, maybe they would have saved at least half the house, but there's nothing,” she said.
The closest fire hydrant to the house is outside the neighborhood, about a half mile away and doesn’t appear to be in service.
“The fire department had more than enough water with them even though there's not a fire hydrant close by. They brought over 7,000 gallons of water with them,” Garrett said.
Garrett said the reason there are no fire hydrants in the neighborhood is because the subdivision was in the county when it was built. The area was annexed into city limits in 2011.
Donna Acting City Manager Ernesto Silva said the city is slowly working to bring annexed neighborhoods up to city standards.
“Right now we're in the center of town, and working outwards to the west and we should be out there sometime in the next three months,” he said.
Silva said the city is using $9 million in bond money to fix old fire hydrants and install new ones in areas where there are none.
“It is an issue throughout the Valley. I know the cities that are growing and annexing, they’re all having to deal with these types of issues,” Garrett said.
Garrett believes the county needs to start requiring new subdivisions built in the county to have fire hydrant-capable water systems to avoid situations like these in the future.
The American Red Cross is helping the family set them up in a motel for the next few days.
The family said they had just finished paying off the home and had bought new appliances. However, they did not have home insurance.
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