USA — A massive Thursday morning fire just south of Alamo forced several hundred people to evacuate, destroyed three homes and left 17 people homeless.
The destructive blaze started this morning near the intersection of South Tower and Rancho Blanco Roads in the South Tower Estates subdivision, an area better known as “Little Mexico”.
Hidalgo County officials said firefighters from 15 agencies responded to the call.
There were several factors that caused the fire that burned 15 acres, including several properties with homes.
“The fire started at the south-east corner of the intersection in an open field area that had a bunch of old pallets in it,” said Hidalgo County Emergency Manager Tony Peña.
Neighbors also blamed the pallet company.
“There’s a man down the street that owns a pallet company, he stores a lot of pallets there, and they were working on the back of the plant,” said neighbor Raul Vela. “I don’t know…I thought I saw somebody welding there the other day about two days ago.”
Hundreds of residents fled their homes while firefighters were working to contain the blaze.
“They helped me,” said neighbor Betty Seawell. “The police went and told me I had to go out. I was out there at the gate looking and he told me I needed to go because the fire was coming back across the road.”
Emergency management officials said the fire devoured at least three houses and one vehicle.
They say heavy winds helped to fan and spread the flames.
Bulldozers were brought in to make fire-breaks, clearing the brush around the blaze and to prevent it from spreading to other homes.
“There was a health aid station setup in the community to provide health assistance to any firefighters or residents who may be needing health assistance, oxygen, water, hydrations, first aid station,” said Eddie Olivarez with the Hidalgo County Health Department.
Several power poles were slowly burning, one fell to the ground and AEP crews were on site to cut the power in order for fire crews to continue battling the blaze.
One concerned citizen expressed her frustrations that area doesn’t fire hydrants.
Hidalgo County officials said about 250 homes had smoke damage while at least six adults and 11 children were treated for smoke inhalation. They were taken to a local shelter.
A burn ban has remained in effect for Hidalgo County for several months.