90 / 72
      91 / 68
      92 / 71

      Drought prolongs wildfire fears

      What should be green is mostly brown.Severe drought is devastating some valley crops and putting emergency responders on edge."Right now we're in a very, very dangerous fire situation, and we will continue to be in a dangerous fire situation," said George Garrett, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for Weslaco and Donna. Garrrett said a Homeland Security meeting Thursday revealed the Valley could reach extreme drought within three to four months. Should we not get some kind of tropical storm," said Garrett. "For those of us in emergency services, it presents a very real threat." The threat is man made. "People are not burning smartly," said Garrett. Garrett said trash burning can take a turn for the worse. "We have areas down here that we could wipe out an entire neighborhood very, very quickly if a fire gets started," said Garrett. "Even in the rural areas it could wipe out an entire colonia." Punishment for illegal burning is in place, but Garrett said judges don't always choose the maximum. "It's when it gets to the court systems, a lot of times it's not taken seriously as it should be," said Garrett. Safe burning begins with the individual. Even without a burn ban in place, you must get a burn permit. It's a safeguard from potential disaster. Even with a permit, there are safety precautions you need to take. To get a list of recommendations visit http://www.co.hidalgo.tx.us/index.aspx?NID=328.