A grass fire in Odessa burns hundreds of acres and forces over 1,000 people to evacuate their homes. Now, fire officials from Odessa and Midland are warning everyone to be careful in the midst of this drought.
It was another warm and sunny day on Wednesday, but the combination of dry, windy conditions caused a massive grass fire that threatened homes and businesses. By nightfall, more than 500 acres had burned.
Midland Assistant Fire Marshal David Hickman says that fires are sparking up everyday, and there's no end in sight.
"We're seeing an average around two or three a day this whole week and we're anticipating that it's going to continue," Hickman said.
Burn bans were put in place on Monday for both Midland and Ector Counties, but it's not just outdoor burning that's causing fires.
"We want to remind people, smokers out there...if you have an ashtray in your car to use it please. Be considerate and don't flip the lit cigarette or cigar butts out the window because these potentially can cause fires," Hickman said.
The bans restrict open burning of any kind. This includes campfires and trash burning. Outdoor grilling is permitted, but take all precautions.
"We recommend that you have water very available, fire extinguishers, I even recommend that you have the little pump sprayers like you use for gardening. They're very handy and very effective when you catch that fire small," Hickman said.
Because of the windy conditions across West Texas, the fires are spreading extremely fast. So if you see a fire, even if it's small...call 911 immediately.
"The faster we can get resources on that fire, the better we will be able to contain it. But if you delay, delay, delay in calling 911, then the fire could potentially grow beyond our control very quickly," Hickman said.
If you chose not to obey the burn ban, you could face a fine of up to $500 for burning in the county, and up to $2,000 for burning within city limits. As of 7 o'clock Wednesday evening, that Odessa fire had been contained, and no injuries were reported. Also, everyone that was evacuated has now been able to return to their homes.