Two die in overnight blazes, Pharr chief warns of fire hazards during winter

Yellow tape hangs in front of a home that that caught on fire where a body of a man was found on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, in Pharr. (Joel Martinez |


When the first real cold fronts arrive at the border, fires often break out in houses across the Rio Grande Valley.

That proved tragically true late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning for two people in two separate fires.

Pharr Fire Chief Lenny Perez said his department responded to a blaze at 125 W. Guerra St. after receiving a call of a house fire at 1:30 a.m. Thursday.

The fire department arrived in just two minutes, but it was too late for one man who died at the scene of the fire, which sent a woman to a hospital in serious condition.

San Juan Fire Chief Tirso Garza confirmed one person died in a fire that occurred in San Juan.

Garza, however, did not respond to basic questions sent via email about the fatal fire his department responded to.

As for the fire in Pharr, Perez said investigators spent the day combing through the debris to determine what caused the fire.

Fires during the winter are often caused by people trying to keep warm, Perez said.

The Pharr chief said space heaters are often a fire starter because they are not kept at the proper level or because they are placed too close to an ignition source.

The Pharr fire chief also advises that people not use charcoal inside their houses for warmth as it is a fire hazard and produces carbon monoxide, which is a silent and invisible killer.

Another dangerous method of staying warm people use is turning on gas stoves to heat the house, which Perez warns against.