Now, the Texas Forest Service believes the Midland County Fire could have been started because of one cigarette. Now people want to know, what can be done to find those responsible?
Throwing a cigarette out a window seems like a harmless action. Here in West Texas, it could be a deadly one. As we saw over the weekend, dozens of homes were destroyed, and animals were killed. Now the community wants to see something done.
Long time resident Sherrie O'Hara says in one click she could catch someone throwing out a lit cigarette.
"We all have iPhones, we need to turn them in," said O'Hara. "We need to know to who turn them into, this has to stop."
Just recently, she witnessed someone throwing out a cigarette.
"I saw a car load of people, each side rolled down the window and threw a live cigarette out on the ground. I couldn't believe it," said O'Hara.
O'Hara wants justice.
"It could be there house that burned down. I can't understand why people would absentmindedly throw out a lit cigarette," said O'Hara.
"This is a very dangerous time period," said Midland Sheriff Gary Painter. "For all of West Texas"
Sheriff Painter says these perpetrators should know that they could be caught.
"If they can trace it back to that cigarette -- which they could get DNA off of -- trace it back to that cigarette, they could find the origin of that fire, then they could file on that individual for damage for the property or anything else that's torn up," said Sheriff Painter.
Some Midlanders like O'Hara want to help. And the Sheriff feels those are their best detectives.
"Contact us," said Sheriff Painter. "That's evidence. You witnessed it happened. We could take a statement. We can get a warrant,"
"Stop what your doing," said O'Hara. "Just don't do it , just don't do it. You're gonna kill somebody."
Sheriff Painter says that if anyone decides to throw a cigarette out their window -- especially during the burn ban -- it could cost up to $2,000 in fines. And if authorities find out that cigarette burnt down houses, those responsible will have to pay for those damages.
You could help out local law enforcement by just writing down license plates or snapping a picture, then sending it either to Midland Police Department or the Sheriff's office.
Jackie Smith can reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.