Holiday fires could be prevented with precaution

It TMs the season of gift shopping, vacation and families gathering around the kitchen to cook-up traditional Christmas dishes.

That's one of the things that makes this a busy time of year for fire fighters.

Cameron County fire investigators responded to a fire at an abandoned building at 4 a.m. today, and hours later Brownsville crews rushed to a burning home in the Southmost area.

County Emergency Manager Humberto Barrera said it tends to happen during the holidays.

"It's not a surprise that we've had more fires, but it's very unfortunate because some of those were mobile homes where families lived, Barrera said. A week ago they had a home, today they don't."

Different sources of fire like candles, overloaded power outlets, dry Christmas trees and unattended stove and grills are some of the most common sources of blame for fires in the area.

"It all can be prevented, just people need to keep a closer eye, Barrera said. People have been lighting candles for years, but it only takes that one time that it cracks or falls over."

Other things that are out of people's control like the cold temperatures, might also be contributing to fires, especially those at abandoned homes.

That was the case in the fire that burned down a warehouse on Jefferson Street in Brownsville.

"What happens a lot of times is people that don TMt have a place to go, or sometimes homeless people, are finding their way into these houses, Barrera said. Obviously there's no electricity, so they start building some fires inside to stay warm, and as they dose off or leave, some of those houses burn down."

Despite the dry conditions, Barrera said levels have not reached extreme conditions to the point where the county would have to ban fireworks this season.