Fire Threat - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Fire Threat

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND/ECTOR COUNTIES-  Even though they work for and  represent 2 different counties, Dale Little and Jimmy Ellis do agree on one thing.  When it comes to the burn ban, people have got to start taking responsiblity for their actions, before someone gets hurt.

All eyes were on Midland and Martin Counties last Friday as the threat of a massive grass fire came dangerously close to Midland city limits.  

And although this fire was accidental, if you happen to start a fire, you could face a penalty.

According to Midland Fire Marshal Dale Little, "anything that starts a fire will get a citation. You could end up with 2 citations. We're doing for the protection of the public."

Little says that in Texas, 182 counties are currently under a burn ban, including Midland and Ector, and that little bit of fog we saw Thursday morning, won't be enough to make a dent in the dry conditions.

And although many people arent aware of it, West Odessa fire fighters also had their hands full last friday.

West Odessa Fire Chief Jimmy Ellis, tells NewsWest 9, "I had two pretty good sized fires in Ector county, on Friday.  One was before the big fire and the other was during the big fire."

For the year, the West Odessa Volunteer Fire Department has already responded to over 100 calls.   And the burn ban in Ector County, has been in effect since late last year. But according to Ellis, some people just dont seem to get it.

Ellis added, "we've been under a burn ban for almost 3 months.  We're two weeks short of three months, and I think the time has come to start writing tickets.  Maybe if you hit these people in their pocket book, they'll start paying attention and stop doing this before we burn some houses or kill some people.

Ellis and Little agree, it's going to take  a substantial amount of rain to get us out of the fire danger we're in.   But in the mean time, we all have to do our part, or pay the price.

Dale Little commented, "We're doing for the protection of the public.  You can see from the fire we had last week, even though that was an accidental fire it could have been very devastating to the city of Midland."

Ellis agrees, "We're trying to give it everything we've got.  We've got to cover what we've got.  We've got to take care of business. And if the burn ban doesn't do it, I'm not sure what we can do."

With high winds expected in the Basin all this week, fire officials have some tips on how to help protect your property.

You can help prevent grassfires by keeping your grass and weeds mowed.   Clearing out vegetation that's growing around buildings or combustible materials, like a propane tanks.  And avoid welding or grilling if the winds are too high.  

For more information, go to NewsWest9.com and click on burn bans.

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