Increase in illegal burning worries county officials

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Fire tore through a property at La Homa and West Mile 4 in rural Mission this past Mother’s Day Sunday, leaving a family without a home - and costing a man his business.

Back in April - another fire destroyed a nearby home.

The fires were used by Hidalgo County officials as a backdrop to discuss two issues they say can be dangerous – illegal dumping and illegal burning.

Officials said they deal with illegal burning in rural areas on a daily basis - and they need people to stop.

RELATED: Mission family loses home and business in fire

“A wooden fence can catch fire, unfortunately like what happened here, and it just expands from there,” Hidalgo County Precinct 3 Constable Larry Gallardo said. “You have grass that burns very quickly, you have brush that burns very quickly, with high wind conditions it travels pretty fast.”

Gallardo was joined at the meeting by Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez who said these incidents - often brought on by illegal dumping - are happening too often.

“We spend over $8 million picking up people's trash, 76% of that trash came from cities and people who don't even live in rural areas,” Cortez said.

Judge Cortez also said people will also burn household items in drainage canals - which leads to an entirely different set of issues.

“We're spending a tremendous amount of money with illegal dumping of mattresses, furniture, and they're being dumped into our drainage canals, which is causing more problems,” Cortez said.

The county fire marshal was also on hand at the event reminding people that the county enacted a 90-day burn ban on March 23.


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