Harlingen brush fire threatens county building, homes

A brush fire in Harlingen has been extinguished but it came a little too close for comfort for some county officials and neighbors.

The fire scorched more than 100 acres of land next to and behind the Cameron County Annex Building off Wilson Road.

It all started in a brushy area around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Investigators are not sure what caused the fire but Harlingen Fire Chief Michael Rinaldi said the weather made it complicated.

It's hard to contain because of the dry grass|the wind...the area that it's in, Rinaldi said. We tried to use the natural boundaries like the railroad tracks and roads. With the wind, it pushed it over the railroad tracks."

The fire came within yards of the county annex building prompting authorities to shut down the drive-thru windows for the tax office.

That didn't stop Harlingen resident Jessica Cantu or others from coming by to pay their traffic tickets, license plates fees and property taxes.

"I would have thought they would have shut it down, Cantu said overlooking the fire.

Cameron County Justice of the Peace Sallie Gonzalez said a decision was made to keep the building open.

It came pretty close and we moved our cars but business is business and until they give us other information, we staying in the building, Gonzalez said.

Meanwhilem, neighbors scrambled with water hoses to protect their homes as winds spread flames across nearby fields and brush.

Like others, Pastor Isaias Herrera said he saw the smoke and decided to help.

Herrera went in after firefighters and helped put out hotspots using a shovel to help keep neighbors safe.

I don TMt have a big shovel, but it TMs a good one, Herrera said.