Rainless Months Means Critical Fire Danger for the Basin

by Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - A cigarette butt thrown out the side of a car, a single spark from a power line, that's all it would take to start a fire nowadays.

64 days and counting with no rain. This dry spell has West Texas firefighters, from Midland to Odessa, on high alert.

"Everything's so dry now, it doesn't take much for a powder keg to just go," Captain Rick Butler with the Midland Fire Department, said.

With no rain providing moisture to the air and high winds, the very ground we walk on is a danger.

Fire officials tell say the conditions are perfect. Tall, dry grass that's been baking under the West Texas sun for 64 days straight. And with all this wind, one spark is all it takes.

With the heavy rains the Basin received in the Spring months, grass and brush on the ground grew quickly, but now with no rain, they're just high and dry kindling.

"We're actually above schedule on our rainfall," Kevin Jackson, Acting Battalion Chief for the Odessa Fire Department, said. "However, it's been 64 days since we've had any precipitation. The grass is dry and tender at this time."

But firefighters say homeowners in the Basin can still protect themselves when it comes to their lawns, and it's all a matter of trimming down.

"My advice would be to have everything cut down. Give yourself a nice little grace area with everything cut down. The smaller the better and just be prepared," Butler said.