Fire Officials Gear Up for Busy July 4th Holiday

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

ECTOR COUNTY--This is possibly the worst fire season on record.  Triple digit temperatures and dry conditions are bad enough, but when you throw in a spark from a firework, the end result could be disastrous. It's that type of situation that has fire officials hoping beyond all hope, for a quiet fourth of July.

West Odessa Volunteer Fire Chief, Jimmy Ellis, tells NewsWest 9, "I know people like to shoot them and they swear up and down they'll be safe and be good but still, every year, even the wet years, we have 30 - 40 runs over the 3rd and 4th.  I'm afraid this year we're going to have a couple of hundred runs."

With a big holiday right around the corner and conditions as dry as they've been lately, Ellis says, it would take a lot of rain to get us, anywhere near, being out of fire danger, "Unless we just get a hurricane up from the Gulf that just sits on top of us for about four days, we're going to have a busy two weeks."

That's why he's so adamant about the fireworks ban and what he feels is going to be an extremely busy time for him and his crew, "We're going to be everywhere.  Our biggest problem is, when they start selling the fireworks, is going to be everything mainly from 866 to the West Loop, in between Kermit Highway and I-20.  But as dry as we are, we may end up helping other jurisdictions."

Even with a ban in place, Ellis says people are going to do what they want.   That's when accidents happen. But there is something you can do, just in case, "If they're going to pop fireworks, keep a shovel handy, a bucket of water, a water hose.  Anything along that line will help.  If you can get it while it's small, you can knock it down and keep it down until we can get there and make sure it's extinguished."

Ellis wants to re-emphasize, you can't be too careful and that caution is of the utmost importance, especially right now, "There's not a firework or a day outside enjoying it, that's worth somebody losing their house or their life over.  It's just not worth it. "

Ellis and his crew spent Monday night, going over all of five of their brush trucks, making sure all the pumps are up to date, even changing the oil and filters. They want to make sure every truck is up to par, because as Jimmy says, "We're getting ready to run the wheels off of them."