Firefighters Mobilize to Combat Blazes

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Firefighters knocking down Wednesday's massive grassfire near Odessa is a prime example of tactics they're having to put into play nowadays.

At least 15 agencies responded to that fire, requiring a system of communication.

"That call is made and we open up the emergency operation center and they have organizational structure as well with various agencies that respond as well to that," said John Alvarez, the Assistant Fire Chief for the Odessa Fire Department.

911 gets the call, and then mobile command and resource centers are dispatched to relay the message for help to as many agencies as possible.

After months without a drop of rain, and with all the dry grass, a small patch of flames can become a dangerous wildfire in mere moments.

The new burn bans in Midland and Ector Counties can only do so much, as only an accidental spark can be enough to light up the Basin.

It's during days like these, red flag warning days, that firefighters must be constantly aware and ready to respond with help on a moments notice.

"Be aware and know, especially on a red flag warning day that we let our personnel know and we try to prepare ourselves for that," Alvarez said.

And now the Texas Forest Service is throwing their hat in to try to put an end to all the grass fires.

They will now be setting up task forces with extra manpower and equipment in cities like Midland, Odessa and Fort Stockton.

"By adding these task forces' other personnel, we have more people that can get out and help the fire departments with whatever is needed," said the West Regional Fire Manager for the Texas Forest Service Bill Davis.

In a time when firefighters are left to watch the dry conditions of the Basin without any help from Mother Nature, they say there is strength and mutual aid in numbers.

In the meantime, firefighters encourage West Texans to abide by the burn bans in place and not burn anything, even trash, outside.

They also stress not to leave any chains hanging from your vehicle, it could cause sparks if it makes contact with the road.