Volunteer Firefighters Push for Burn Ban in Ector County

by Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

WEST ODESSA - No rain for more than 60 days, couple that with freezing temperatures, and the grass might as well be kindling.

"Everything is tall and it's dead,"  Captain Bryan Barrow, with the South Ector County Volunteer Fire Department, said.

"There's a lot of things that just are beyond our control," Ector County Commissioner, Freddie Gardner, said.

The smallest spark could start a widespread fire.

After a trailer fire on Monday and grass fires popping up all over, West Odessa Volunteer Fire Captains are calling for a burn ban.

But the County Commissioners struck it down, not wanting to hurt West Texans who burn their waste responsibly.

"I don't like burn bans because it causes problems for the people who try to do things right and try to follow the rules," Gardner said.

They say they typically instill burn bans when the dryness in the soil hits a 500 or more on the Keetch-Byram Drought Index.

Ector County currently sits at 490, but Volunteer Firefighters say the time is right now.

"It's just a number. Is that worth somebody's house? Is that worth somebody's property? For a number? It's not. We need a burn ban," Barrow said.

County Commissioners say they expect the issue to be brought up again in their next meeting and until that time firefighters urge everyone to take great care.

"People need to be careful what they're burning in their barrels," Barrow said. "Cover them, don't burn your trash on a windy day, use some common sense, it goes a long way."

It's worth mentioning that one of the grass fires West Odessa Volunteer Firefighters were sent out on Tuesday morning was in fact caused by a renegade spark from a burn barrel.

Ector County Commissioners told NewsWest 9, they will hear on the burn ban again in their December 13th meeting.

However, firefighters fear by that time, too many West Odessa homes may be lost to the flames.