Rebuilding process following wildfires in south central Kansas a slow one

Jun 14, 2017

A fire that broke out in Oklahoma March 5 rapidly spread into Clark County, Kansas and burned over 600,000 acres of land.
Credit LT. SETH FRIZZELL / HOLCOMB COMMUNITY FIRE DEPARTMENT

Areas of south central Kansas ravaged by March 6 wildfires could take decades to rebuild.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the fire that started March 5 in Oklahoma and spread north at 50 mph burned 600,000 acres in Kansas, making it the largest wildfire in state history.  Area ranchers lost 5,000 cattle and more than 1,000 miles of fencing and most of the ranches suffered more than $1 million in damages, much of it uninsured.

Gardiner and his brothers Mark and Garth lost nearly all of their 48,000-acre ranch in the wildfire, as well as more than 500 adult cows, most with newly born or soon-to-be calves, valued at several million dollars, making it the largest natural disaster to effect the family, which has ranched and farmed in Clark County for more than 130 years.

Gardiner said “Sometimes it hits you that you can’t fix in six months what took generations to make,” but said the family survived what he called “the beast,” which he said consisted of flames that often reached 50 feet into the air.