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      Smoke from Bastrop fires lingering over Valley skies

      A smoky haze is lingering over Rio Grande Valley skies this Labor Day.

      Smoke from brush fires in the Austin area have been carried south by northern winds.

      The National Weather Service in Brownvsille reports that fires in Bastrop is the principal source.

      Geoff Bogorad with the National Weather Service in Brownsville told Action 4 News that a plum of smoke has been pushed down to the Valley.

      Hazy skies and an odor of smoke are the result.

      Despite recent rains, the Valley is still at risk for brush fires.

      Bogorad said the rains were not uniform and that Cameron County and Eastern Hidalgo County are still considered in severe drought.

      Western Hidalgo County and Starr County are considered in extreme drought.

      The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) reports that 80 percent of wildfires occur within two miles of residential neighborhoods and suburbs.

      When wildfires are moving at extreme speeds, they cannot be controlled.

      When advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

      Choose a route away from the fire hazard and be alert to changes in the speed and direction of fire and smoke.

      When weather conditions make wildfires more likely, prepare by taking the following precautions:

      Keep firefighting tools handy, such as: ladder long enough to reach the roof, shovel, rake and buckets. Place connected garden hoses on all sides of the house for emergency use. Know all emergency exits from your house. Learn all routes leading out of your neighborhood.

      As fires actually approach, take the following actions:

      Park your car facing the direction of escape. Shut off gas at the meter. Only a qualified professional can safely turn the gas back on. Turn off propane tanks. Place combustible patio furniture inside. Seal vents with pre-cut plywood or commercial seals. Wet down or remove shrubs within 15 feet of your residence. Place lawn sprinklers on roof and near above-ground fuel tanks. Wet down the roof. Close windows, vents, doors, blinds and non combustible window coverings. Remove flammable drapes and curtains. Close interior doors and windows to prevent drafts.

      For more information on fire danger and advisories, see the Texas Forest Service Website at: