Evacuees Speak as South Ranchito Fire Rages in Ector County

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - NewsWest 9 traveled to the area where authorities were telling evacuees to stay while they knocked down the South Ranchito and Batesfield blaze on Sunday.

What NewsWest 9 found when we arrived around 7:30 p.m. were lines of trucks and other vehicles containing people watching and waiting, forced to evacuate on a moments notice as the flames raced around their neighborhoods.

"I was coming from town and I could see the flames and you could feel, smell the smoke," Evacuee, Norma Lopez, said. "It's nasty."

"Been out here for three hours. Since 4:30, about 4:30," Evacuee, Andreas Jacobo, said. "I could see the flames right at my house, right in front of my house. About five, six foot high so you could see the flames."

DPS and other authorities went from home to home, trying to get everyone out as quick as possible. Many just took whatever they could grab in a few minutes' time.

"We didn't get to get nothing out by that time," Jacobo said. "They started going by the houses, telling everyone to leave so I told my wife 'just get whatever you can and just, let's get out.'"

"I wasn't really worried about what they were saying honestly, I was just worrying about the family," Evacuee, Daniel Tavares, said. "I gathered up our stuff and I put my jet ski on the truck and we just took off."

Others never got that chance as they were stopped by the police barricade.

"I didn't think I was gonna have a place to stay tomorrow (Monday) morning," Evacuee, Emanuel Mendoza, said. "That's the first thing that popped into my head. The state troopers on the other side, they didn't let me go through and I was just trying to save my dogs and some personal belongings, some of my kids' clothes for school, but they weren't letting anyone go through there. I guess it was real bad."

All they could do was wait to be let back in and hope they still had a home to come back to.

"They told us we needed to move, so we had to evacuate," Lopez said. "So we're just waiting here, hopefully our houses don't catch fire."

There were no reports of injuries from the fire and no structures were damaged.

Residents have been allowed back into the communities of South Ranchito and Batesfield. For any questions, residents are being asked to contact troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety at the intersection of Highway 3503 and Hammett Drive.