EDINBURG, Texas (ValleyCentral) — On March 30 a high-speed police chase at the Edinburg Motorsports Park (EMP) ended in flames on their property.
“There was a high-speed chase on 281 and it ended right on the corner of our property,” said Rey Chavez, co-owner of EMP.
Hidalgo County Sheriff’s office engaged in a high-speed chase after a driver refused to pull over for a regular traffic stop. The man driving lost control flipped and crashed, igniting flames.
Multiple area fire departments responded to the scene until the flames died well into the 1 a.m. hour.
ValleyCentral’s Iris Karami asked Chavez, “What was your biggest fear?”
“Losing our livelihood,” said Chavez.
“We have our responsibility to this business,” he said. “It has been here since 1947 and losing it would’ve been a huge blow not only to us but to the community.”
Fortunately, the race track stayed un-touched, but Hidalgo County Emergency Manager Ricardo Saldaña said not everyone has been so lucky.
“In some of the counties that we have gone to support there have been some structures that have not been occupied some have been occupied,” said Saldaña.
Hidalgo County has submitted a declaration of disaster allowing them to request help from the State of Texas.
“The state has already pre-deployed what we call the ‘T.I.F.M.A.S’ (Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System) strike team. It consists of five brush trucks and a tanker, they’re currently staged at the Edinburg Fire Department along with Texas Forest Service. We also have one Texas Forest Service bulldozer assigned to this area,” said Saldaña.
If you are a farmer that was impacted by the wildfires you could also be eligible for grant assistance, according to Saldaña.
“This will allow our farmers and ranchers who were impacted by these wildfires to be able to file some type of grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” said Saldaña.
Saldaña added that volunteer firefighters also have a similar opportunity.
“Texas Forest Services has a couple grants out there for volunteer fire departments for the volunteer fire department for emergency use or for any damages that have occurred to their equipment,” he said.
Chavez sent a special thanks to Edinburg Fire Chief Shawn Snider who Chavez said was the first one on the scene and the last one to leave.
Snider said he has seen more fires start from cars in the past two months than he has in the last two years. The dry weather and strong winds are what Snider said is the perfect mix for wildfires.
Saldaña warned residents to have an extinguisher near by if they plan to barbecue for the Easter holiday and added the burn ban is still in place.