Once a ranch-owning family saw the intense wildfire heading towards their ranch in the remote Lipscomb, Texas, it did not leave them any time to run.
“We had a minute or two and then it was over us,” Nancy Schwerzenbach, 56, said of the ordeal.
Fires and Destruction
The fire was moving at speeds of around a whopping 70 miles per hour and was only one of many across over 2 million acres hitting Texas,Kansas, and Oklahoma last week, resulting in millions in damage and the death of thousands of animals and livestock.
After burning through almost all of the 1,000 acres at Schwerzenbach’s ranch, the severe fire also killed around 40 cattle. Only one mile away, a man was killed in the very rural community.
“The fire was about two miles away before we knew what happened to us,” she stated.
Numerous other small fired began burning in Colorado, Florida Everglades, and Nebraska, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma, ranchers have started going back home in order to survey damage from the various fires, which was fueled due to high winds and dry vegetation.
In Oklahoma, fired destroyed a hog farm owned by Smithfield Foods Inc. in the town of Laverne, killing around 4,300 sows.
“When we drive down the road and look out on the pasture lands, there’s no grass. There’s dead deer, dead cows, dead wildlife, miles of fence gone away. It looks like a complete desert,” said co-owner of Ashland Veterinary Center Dr. Randall Spare. He has begun assisting relief efforts throughout Clark County in Kansas.
The State Veterinarian for Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Rod Hall, stated that bulldozers had begun to be used in order to bury the large amounts of dead animals.
“They’re digging large pits and burying the animals in there,” said Hall.
An estimate of around 1,500 cattle had been killed in Texas.
“When we value the deaths of cattle at market value, including disposal costs, we’re talking about $2.1 million at this point, and I expect that to go up,” he stated. “We’re still dealing with chaos, they’re still trying to find cattle.”