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Tuesday, July 20, 2004

KGBT 4 - TV Harlingen, TX: Mexican Landfill Fire Causing Hazy Skies

KGBT 4 - TV Harlingen, TX: Mexican Landfill Fire Causing Hazy Skies
JULY 19, 2003 - It's been burning for days and filled the skies over the lower valley with a haze.

A landfill fire in Matamoros is causing two sets of problems, one for Matamoros firefighters trying to put out the blaze, the other for those with breathing problems.

Fire fighters say the flames started on Thursday. They were able to contain the blaze over the weekend, but then Monday morning the fire sparked up again.

But, now the bigger concern is smoke. The landfill is ten miles south of the Rio Grande, deep into the city of Matamoros.

The big flames are out, but small hot spots are still burning. Garbage trucks are moving in an out with no problem.

But, trash collector Felipe Cardenas says for days the thick black smoke has been making it very difficult for him to work.

"When the flames started it was big, then the wind changed almost changing climate, the flames started like nothing, then when the wind changed again and threw it back this way," Cardenas said.

The smoke isn't only affecting people living near the landfill.

Brownsville City Health Director Josue Ramirez says the smoke is blowing north into the Valley.

"Well, we got a report from TCEQ saying that the air quality is okay, our concern would be more for the people who suffer from allergies and respiratory problems to be in an indoor, air conditioned building while this passes by."

Even though results from the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality control show the air is not at a dangerous level, Ramirez says the health department is waiting for its own test results.

"But, it's very minimal particles in the air, so some might feel the reaction, some might not."

Fire fighters still don't know how the fire was started, but believe it was intentionally set.

Ramirez suggests if you aren't able to get to a place with air-conditioning and the smoke is bothering you, then you should buy an air filter mask. He says they cost two dollars at the most.

The next best thing is to tie a cloth around your face, covering your mouth to help keep you smoke free.

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