Fast-moving wildfires tore across parts of Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas in the first half of this week, killing 3 ranch hands in Texas with countless livestock killed or injured.
A series of lethal wildfires across several states have burned tens of thousands of acres since Monday, fueled by heat, low humidity and high winds. Fires have claimed human lives as well as livestock; for livestock that may have survived the fire, further complications caused by injuries or smoke inhalation still loom ahead. The number of animals killed or affected is still unknown as ranchers are only just able to return to their spreads to assess damage.
- Kansas: a thousand residents were evacuated from the towns of Englewood and Ashland in Clark County, with three major fires burning Monday night. Twelve counties reported fires all across Kansas. Total acreage burned is estimated in the thousands. One death was reported due to smoke inhalation.
- Colorado: a fire in Logan County has burned 30,000 acres, but the fire was 90% contained as of Tuesday morning
- Oklahoma: several counties were evacuated due to separate fires burning 10,000 and 40,000 acres respectively.
- Texas: Areas around Amarillo in Potter County reported fires, some of which merged into single conflagrations. One fire was reported to be 12 to 15 miles across; firefighters battling this blaze reported injuries. A separate fire in Gray County claimed the life of three ranch hands.
In Gray County, east of Amarillo, two men and a woman were killed while trying to herd cattle away from the flames. They have been identified as Emmert Sloan, Cody Crockett and Sydney Wallace. Crockett and Wallace were in their 20s.
Miles of fencing have been burned and destroyed all across these states and the death toll for animals has not yet been counted; many ranchers are still assessing their losses as they travel their burnt pastures. One major concern for livestock that may not have been directly in the path of flames is compounding health conditions due to smoke inhalation and burns, even minor. In many cases, fires moved too quickly for animal owners to safely evacuate their stock.
The affected wildfire areas are largely beef producers where the horse is not just a companion but a valuable tool for taking care of cattle. Our hearts go out to all those affected by this week’s wildfires, especially the families of those individuals lost.
If you would like to help livestock owners recover, the following relief efforts have been set up:
- Kansas: The Kansas Livestock Association is organizing fencing and hay donations. Contact the KLA at 785-273-5115 or make a cash donation online via the Kansas Livestock Foundation.
- Colorado: Grassroots efforts are underway to assist affected ranches; there is a need for fencing, hay and trucking services. CHS Grainland in Haxton is accepting donations; individual queries can be made to Rick Unrein at 970-520-3565, Kent Kokes at 970-580-8108, John Michal at 970-522-2330 or Justin Price at 970-580-6315.
- Oklahoma: Harper County Extension Office at 580-735-2252 and Buffalo Feeders at 580-727-5530 are accepting feed donations and trucking services. Cash donations may be made online to the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Foundation.
- Texas: Two livestock supply points have been set up:
- 202 W. Main St., Lipscomb; contact J.R. Sprague at 806-202-5288. For Ochiltree, Lipscomb, Hemphill and Roberts counties
- 301 Bull Barn Drive, Clyde Carruth Expo Center, Pampa; contact Mike Jeffcoat at 580-467-0753. For Gray, Wheeler and Roberts counties.
Go hug your horses.