Grassfire Danger Growing Across West Texas

By Wyatt Goolsby
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - It's a dangerous combination. West Texas is seeing a lot of wind, and not a drop of rain. The dry conditions mean firefighters are gearing up to fight more grassfires in the next few weeks. It's so bad five counties now have burn bans.

The danger has also given firefighters a chance to warn West Texans to be careful if you plan to burn anything outside.   
"They've got a grassfire in California right now that's burned a hundred homes. God forbid something like that happen out here, but we're primed and ready for it," Chief Jimmy Ellis, with the West Odessa Volunteer Fire Department, said. "People, if they don't clean around their houses and get stuff cleaned up, its not gonna be there."

Ellis said while it may not be the summer, the fire danger is still building.

"Toward the end of November, we have a lot of grassfires," Ellis explained. "People still burning trash, the [hard] freeze comes in and kills all the grass that was left from the summer and it's still way high and once it gets killed, its just fuel for the fire."

The conditions have forced county officals in Martin, Upton, Ward, Reeves, Reagan to issue or reinstate burn bans. Other counties like Midland, Ector and Howard counties are watching the weather to see if they should issue burn bans too.
"You see the winds [Friday] and like I say, one spark today and we'll be chasing one for a little while," Ellis said.

He also added if more big grassfires pop up, it could cause a lot of damage if residents aren't careful.

"That's something you have to pay attention to, and it's just common sense," Ellis warned. "It's not asking them to do without forever and ever. They can carry it to the landfill, they can get a dumpster, it's not that much more expensive than buying the barrels and burning trash in them."

In addition, firefighters are asking residents to make sure you have a water hose or fire extinguisher handy anytime you start a fire. Also, they warned not to start fires around the dry grass or brush.