Are Brownsville firefighters at risk while helping in Matamoros?
Tue, 01 Mar 2011 01:49:07 GMT —
It was a blaze that made headlines in Matamoros, Mexico.
More than 22,000 tons of trash went up in flames after a suspected arsonist sparked it.
According to Brownsville Mayor Pat Ahumada, the fire was burning so far out of control that the mayor of Matamoros called on Ahumada for help.
Ahumada said as part of an interlocal agreement between the sister cities that dates back at least 20 years, he called-in the Brownsville fire department asking for volunteers.
"I am mayor of some very courageous humanitarians and people that care - really care- firefighters, Ahumada said. They responded to the call, beyond the call of duty, it was all based on volunteerism."
Mayor Ahumada said several firefighters and paramedics stepped-up to the plate to battle a landfill fire that was threatening 20 acres of land, nearby homes and contaminating the air around an area known as La Copa in Matamoros.
"In time of need, we can not ignore that distress, Ahumada said. But we'll always make sure that everyone is safe, that we do it responsibly and that criteria was met yesterday. There was no reason to doubt that anybody was at risk or taking any risks other than combating a fire."
However, one Brownsville firefighter was heated over the decision to send Rio Grande Valley firefighters into Mexico.
He wrote to Action 4 News stating:
To risk our lives for a landfill fire is unacceptable. We need to take being in Mexico very serious. It only takes 1 bullet to find its mark. It's sad to feel that it TMs going to take a major incident like what happened to Immigration Customs Enforcement Special Agent Jaime Zapata for the Brownsville Mayor to wake-up and stop sending unarmed firefighters to Mexico."
Ahumada said this firefighter is undermining his colleagues efforts.
"Who is he to question that volunteerism? Ahumada said. He chose not to respond - that was his choice. But to complain about other firefighters who made that choice consciously, undermines these gentlemen."
Ahumada said Matamoros has the same commitment to assist Brownsville at his request, and Ahumada said they've proven in the past that they too will take on the challenge if need be.