Grass fire threatened homes in north Weslaco

Weslaco firefighters douse a structure that suffered extesive fire damage on Monday in north Weslaco. (Delcia Lopez | dlopez@themonitor.com)

Fire crews have gotten a grass fire that had been threatening homes under control in north Weslaco, Fire Chief Antonio “Tony” Lopez confirmed Monday afternoon.

La Villa firefighters put out a smoldering grass fire on Monday in north Weslaco.
(Delcia Lopez | dlopez@themonitor.com)

The fire was burning on the north side of town, at Farm-to-Market Road 1015 and Mile 9 North Road, the chief said.

Residents of the Pecan Grove subdivision near that intersection said the fire threatened their homes and that they used garden hoses to stave off the flames.

One resident, who lives along Spanish Oak Drive, said the fire came to within 100 yards of his home.

“Our neighbor, he called me to let me know there was a brush fire,” said Armando Arévalo Jr.

His neighbor’s fence caught fire and was damaged, he said.

At first, Arévalo thought the fire had been sparked as a crew worked to bale hay in a nearby field. But other reports say it may have started farther away, across from an irrigation canal.

The fire chief said the source of the blaze is still under investigation, and that crews are still working the scene as an active fire.

Lopez said multiple fire departments responded to the blaze, which occupied between three to four acres of land. Some 50 to 60 firefighters from 10 agencies responded, including Weslaco, Donna, La Villa, Edcouch and Elsa fire departments.

“Right now, we do have multiple agencies on scene attempting to stop this fire,” Lopez said.

The bulk of the flames have been put out, with crews remaining on scene to tamp out flare-ups which continue to spark up on the south and east sides of the fire, Lopez said.

“We are putting some resources to make sure we get everything because the high winds, that’s what fueling the fire. So any embers or stuff like that can cause another fire,” he said, adding that crews are expected to get the remainder of the hotspots under control within an hour.

One home along Mac Drive caught fire, the chief said, adding that the remainder of the “structures have been secured.”

As additional fire crews responded to the scene, Weslaco began rotating them with those who had been on the front lines and “rehabbing” firefighters in the department’s ambulance bus, Lopez said.

“We do have a medical component on scene. We do have our ambus doing rehab,” he said.

Along with the high winds, excessively dry conditions exacerbated the blaze, and continues to pose problems with flare-ups, Lopez said. But overall, the scene has been controlled.

“As of right now, yeah, we’re breathing a little better. We’re just gonna get some hotspots and make sure this thing doesn’t flare up again,” Lopez said.