In West Texas, the term 'March Madness' isn't just about basketball - it's about the weather.
Warm weather gives way to colder temperatures, and the cold is pushed aside by gusting winds. It's turbulent at best, and for area fire fighters, it wreaks havoc as they try to battle wildfires.
"Right now, I pray for rain," said Slaton Fire Chief Freddie Rainwater. "I wish we could have some rain now to try and slow things down. There's a lot more fuel out in the county. Right now, it's like it was back in 2011. We've got fuel that's knee high or higher in some places, and with this wind and stuff, it could send a rapid moving fire in a hurry."
Rainwater said the hardest element to control is the wind.
"You never know what's going to happen once the wind gets up," he said. "That's one of the biggest factors with us. You'll be going along thinking you've got everything done alright, and then the West Texas wind can change in a minute, and then we're going in another direction."
Rainwater said that in the fight against wildfires, he wants to emphasize community education and prevention most of all.
"The best firefighting for us would be prevention," he said, "and that's [people] cleaning up around their places, eliminating any fuel that could burn rapidly - especially up to their places - trying to keep at least a 30 foot barrier around their homes and barns and other places that they have, for protection. We recommend that everybody use approved cooking appliances when they're cooking, and if they do a controlled burn, that it's not during a red flag day or a burn ban."
Rainwater said the Slaton Fire Department is well trained for the wildfire season.
"We train all year round," he said, "and part of the training is for wildfire firefighting and safety and stuff like that for the firefighters."
Right now, though, he is keeping his fingers crossed that it won't be a busy season.
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