fire

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

In an effort to document the March 6 wildfires that burned several hundred thousand acres in the Texas Panhandle, the Hemphill County Library in Canadian is hoping to find people willing to share their experiences with the fires.  

Lindsey Bauman

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that more than $6 million in funding is now available for those affected by the wildfires in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

The funding, delivered through USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program, will assist farmers and ranchers as they attempt to restore grazing lands, rehabilitate devastated landscapes, rebuild fencing and protect damaged watersheds, according to a news release.

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the loss of grassland will mean financial losses for years to come for some ranchers in western and south central Kansas.

Clark County rancher Greg Goodnight is one of only a few ranchers who did not lose any cattle, but he did lose over 14,000 acres of grassland that forced him to round up his 294 cattle on Monday and send them to Dodge City to be sold.

Lindsey Bauman / The Hutchinson News

The last thing Greg Gardiner saw before everything went black was his brother Mark heading to the horse barn.

Fire and smoke was spreading through Clark County from the southwest Monday afternoon. By 3 p.m., the ranch was in the war zone. An orange firewall was heading toward his brother’s home as Greg pulled up with a truck and trailer to help save three horses.

“I knew it was too late,” Greg said.

Lindsey Bauman

Help is coming and is here – where the prairie is singed to the earth – and at all hours.

Jeff Kay was up at 2 a.m. Monday to help unload a couple of trucks carrying hay for ranchers affected by the Clark County wildfires.

“It’s unbelievable the way the farming and ranching community has come together,” said Kay, who operates Ashland Feed and Seed. “There are donations coming from all over the world.”

Lt. Seth Frizzell / Holcomb Community Fire Department

As fire crews in north central Oklahoma continues efforts to contain fires in Beaver, Harper and Woodward counties Tuesday, Kansas’ governor signed the final State of Disaster Emergency declaration for 20 Kansas counties affected by last week’s wildfires.

As The Oklahoma Forestry Service reports, the Northwest Oklahoma Complex was 63 percent contained Tuesday.

ARAH NISHIMUTA / Woodward News

When confronted with the level of tragedy wrought by last week’s wildfires, it is difficult to find a silver lining, but the generosity of others is providing just that.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, residents of Ashland, which was encircled by a fire that has burned over 60 percent of Clark County, Kansas, have been serving up to 600 meals per day to firefighters battling the blaze.

A beautifully tough place to live

Mar 10, 2017
Sarah Nishimuta / Woodward News

It's hard for people who don't make their living on a ranch or farm, growing crops, grassland and cattle to understand how this week's fires have devastated residents here.

Last night I had someone who does not live here call me and try to console me by saying, "Well, ash is good for the grass." All I could say to that was "Wha?"

Lt. Seth Frizzel / Holcomb Community Fire Department

What's being called the Starbuck Fire in south central Kansas and north central Oklahoma continued to burn on Thursday.

As ABC News in Amarillo reports, Beaver County Emergency Management Coordinator Keith Shadden said the fire was about 30 miles long and 25 miles wide as of Thursday morning, as crews continued to work on hot spots and flare-ups from the fire.

Lt. Seth Frizzel / Holcomb Community Fire Department

TOPEKA – Legislation is in the works that would provide tax assistance to farmers, ranchers, homeowners and utilities that have suffered losses from wildfires.

“We are working on it right now. We’re working with the Revisor’s to use similar language that we used last year,” said Rep. Ken Rahjes, R-Agra.

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

The Rocky Mountains can be blamed for the 50 to 60 mile-per-hour wind gusts that spread an unprecedented number of wildfires in the Sunflower State and other areas of the High Plains region over the past several days.

As the Wichita Eagle reports, low-pressure areas tend to set up just east of major mountain formations and that routinely occurs in eastern Colorado.

Joe Amon / The Denver Post

Farmers are being hailed as heroes in the battle against a northeastern Colorado wildfire that broke out Monday.

As The Denver Post reports, as a wildfire fueled by high winds ripped across farm land northeast of Sterling in Logan County and rapidly approached the small town of Haxtun in Phillips County, farmers from the area drove their tractors to dig fire lines to aid a small army of volunteer firefighters.

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

At least seven deaths, massive losses of land and livestock, are being blamed on wildfires that erupted across the High Plains Monday.

As CNN reports, wildfires across the region consumed more than 1 million acres by Tuesday night and killed people five in Texas, one person in Oklahoma and one person in Kansas.

The fires in the Texas Panhandle claimed at least five lives, including three ranchers who were trying to save their cattle in the Texas Panhandle.

Neil Starkey / amarillo.com

UPDATE: By late Wednesday night, CNN was reporting that the Texas wildfires were responsible for five deaths and 325,000 burned acres. Some of the lives lost in the Panhandle belonged to ranchers trying to save their cattle. Nationwide, fires this week have consumed over a million acres and killed seven.

ORIGINAL POST:

Penn State / Flickr Creative Commons

Texas firefighters are asking residents to stop flying drones near wildfire sites, reports The Houston Chronicle.

Last weekend, the Texas A&M Forest Service was battling a blaze near College Station when it was forced to send out an official request to Texas citizens, pleading with them to not fly drones near the fire.

Management following a wildfire: Effects on vegetation and soils

Mar 1, 2017
Courtesy photo

Dry conditions at this time of year can lead to an increased danger of wildfires. While a fire from a prescribed burn in the spring will not harm perennial grasses on grazing lands, a wildfire may act differently. A wildfire can cause enough damage, especially to bunch grasses, to result in a decline in productivity for a year or two. This is not always the case, however. The best general advice on burned rangeland is to just wait and see how well it recovers.

Last year's rains bring increased fire risk in 2017

Feb 27, 2017
Lindsey Bauman / The Hutchinson News

Spring is the optimal time for many people to do prescribed burns across Kansas, especially in the Flint Hills. It invigorates grass/crop growth, reduces noxious weeds, and eliminates excessive dead plant material. These materials, often called fuels, can be variable from season to season. If an area of land is never burned, fuels accumulate and pile up on the ground over the years, often falling over with winter wind and snow.

Casey Richmeier

Last year’s Anderson Creek Wildfire was the biggest known wildfire in Kansas’s history, burning 390,000 acres of land in Oklahoma and Kansas and killing hundreds of cattle, destroying millions of dollars worth of buildings and fences, and endangering the lives of hundreds of residents and volunteer firefighters.

And conditions are present that could make wildfires even more prevalent in 2017.

Casey Richmeier

Windy and dry conditions proved to be a potent combination for firefighters in southwest Kansas and the Texas Panhandle Thursday.

As The Garden City Telegram reports, grass fires were reported in the Kansas counties of Finney, Haskell and Gray County throughout the day.

News 9

Two Oklahoma contracting companies have settled claims over a fire at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Oklahoma, reports News 9 Oklahoma.

Ariana Brocious / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Every spring farmers and ranchers intentionally burn their fields to jumpstart the natural process of renewal. But those fires can be dangerous. That’s why researchers in Nebraska are designing a new drone to start fires, which may help protect people and the environment.