Wildfires Threatening Texas Ag Producers

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NBC News’ Patrick Smith reported Wednesday that “Texas farmers and ranchers are facing the ‘destruction’ of their livelihoods as a result of wildfires that have continued to rage through the panhandle this week into today, the state’s agriculture commissioner said.”

“‘These fires not only threaten lives and property but also have a significant impact on our agriculture industry,’ Sid Miller said in a statement posted on Facebook last night,” according to Smith. “‘We stand in solidarity with our farmers and ranchers facing loss and destruction. Our thoughts are with them during this challenging time, and we’re committed to supporting their recovery efforts every step of the way,’ he added.”

Progressive Farmer’s Elaine Shein and Mary Kennedy reported that “livestock owners are dealing with lost and injured cattle, as well as the loss of feed as valuable grass and hay supplies were burned.”

“Traveling to his friend’s place, (Quentin) Shieldknight got a first-hand look at what the fire left behind. ‘Areas look like a nuke went off. Cattlemen will need medicine and ointments for burns on cows, too, not just hay,’ Shieldknight added,” according to Shein and Kennedy. “‘Everyone (is) still fighting this fire and getting cows moved before wind gets going again tomorrow.’ He said that ranchers will need to reevaluate the condition of the cattle and horses burned in the fires in the next two weeks.”

 

CBS News’ S.E. Jenkins reported that “the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association launched a fundraising campaign to aid victims of the wildfires. ‘A fire is one of the most tragic events that can impact ranches, and a natural disaster such as the widespread wildfires in Texas and Oklahoma can result in financial hardships and deep impacts to our ranching communities,’ said TSCRA President Arthur Uhl.”

Fires Spreading Rapidly

Progressive Farmer’s Elaine Shein and Mary Kennedy reported Wednesday that “the largest of the active fires in the High Plains, the Smokehouse Creek fire in Hutchinson County in the Texas Panhandle, started on Monday and had consumed an estimated 250,000 acres by Tuesday evening. By Wednesday morning it had spread to 500,000 acres, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service, with zero contained. This made it the second largest fire in Texas history.”

As of late Wednesday evening, the Texas A&M Forest Service reports that the Smokehouse Creek Fire is now 850,000 acres and just 3% contained.

“Authorities have not said what might have caused the blaze, which tore through sparsely populated counties set amid vast, high plains punctuated by cattle ranches and oil rigs,” the Associated Press’ Jim Vertuno reported.

“As the evacuation orders mounted Tuesday, county and city officials live-streamed on Facebook and tried to answer questions from panicked residents,” Vertuno wrote. “Officials implored them to turn on their cellphones’ emergency alerts and be ready to evacuate immediately.”

 

“The situation was expected to grow worse, with the size of fires rapidly increasing in areas that were at times have been under a red flag warning with high winds, dryness and dewpoints in the teens or single digits already in place or expected overnight in parts of the High Plains,” Shein and Kennedy reported.

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