A fire swept across about 150 acres in fields in northeast Odessa before it was contained and knocked down Tuesday afternoon, Odessa Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Danny Wyatt said.
The fire spread in privately owned fields between Loop 338 and 52nd Street, near where John Ben Sheppard Parkway links the two. John Ben Sheppard Parkway was shut down to traffic in the afternoon as the fire was battled, with embers at one point jumping from the east side of the street to a second field to the west.
In the western field, the fire moved to nearly 100 yards from structures in the area, but no structures were damaged, Wyatt said. No injuries were reported.
Wyatt said first responders were called to the fire at some point after 2 p.m. He spoke with reporters at the scene as crews rounded contained hot spots at around 4 p.m., by the time the situation was under control.
Crews were redeployed to the scene later Tuesday in the 5 p.m. hour, but the rekindling appeared to be minor in nature and fewer units were needed.
The fire originated on the side of the road on Loop 338, then pushed south and west, but Wyatt said the cause of the fire was unknown as of Tuesday afternoon.
Heavy winds pushed through the area shortly after noon Tuesday, before the fire started. An observable wall of dust was seen around Odessa as a cold front pushed in. Those winds complicated matters for Fire and Rescue when Tuesday afternoon’s fire broke out, Wyatt said.
Wyatt said one engine made it to the scene when the fire was relatively small, but winds helped spread it.
“The wind started blowing so hard at that time — we had that cold front blow in — and it got away from him pretty quick,” Wyatt said on the scene, around 4 p.m. “He called for extra resources. By the time extra resources got here, we already had several acres already burning.
“All said and done, we’re thinking about approximately 150 acres burning. We had resources from Odessa, West Odessa, South Ector County and Gardendale come assist us on this fire.”
It was as those additional engines were still arriving that the fire jumped JBS Parkway, and it was in the western field where the fire neared a 100-yard mark from houses in the area, Wyatt said, but no structures were ever put into immediate danger as engines were on scene.
“The fact that the wind is blowing 15 to 25 miles an hour, it only takes one ember from one of those burning bushes to jump that 60, 70, 80 feet, and once it got over to the other side, it’s so dry out here in West Texas right now — that’s all it takes,” Wyatt said.
Wyatt said officials had to adjust when the fire jumped the four-lane JBS.
“We had to make that on the fly,” he said. “We had most of our rigs on the east side of Parkway, and then when it jumped, we had to get more people in, and find a place to get through the fence and get them in on the west side.”
6:43 p.m.: This story was updated to include details on a redeployment to the scene later Tuesday afternoon.