Ranchers Display Heroism As They Fight Wildfires

Seven states including Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Florida and Colorado have been battling wildfires across rural counties that have killed seven and forced thousands to lose their homes and in many cases their livelihoods.

Some farmers, ranchers and rural residents from Kansas have lost up to 90% of their cattle herds.  The Kansas Livestock Association's Todd Domer told Eye Opener's Courtenay DeHoff  this is an exceptional tragedy in more ways than one.

"They've lost a lot of resources.  A considerable amount of fence, their forage sources are gone, all of their harvested feed is burnt up and an untold number of cattle."

Domer says the speed of the fires in Kansas gave ranchers little time to rescue their livestock.  In Texas a young couple died trying to get their cattle and horses to safety.

Ashland, Kansas resident Larry Konrade told the Wichita Eagle when he left his house Tuesday after the fires began, he was prepared for the worst.

"It's horrible, just horrible.  I left the house with sixty shells and used them all.  It was just a matter of putting animals out of their misery, doing them a favor.  They were going to die anyway.  It's horrible out there, the things I saw," Konrade said.

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According to Domer a story of rural heroism is emerging as the tragedy continues to unfold.

"Animal welfare is number one with most of these ranchers.  They will do anything to save those animals. There are some pretty heroic stories about people going back into the fire to try and save cattle which is not the instinct of most folks."

If you would like to help with relief efforts either in material donations or cash donations you can do so in each of these four states.

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Kansas -  The Kansas Livestock Association is organizing hay and fencing material donations for delivery to affected areas.  To make in-kind donations visit the KLA's charitable arm, by going to www.kla.org/donationform.aspx.

Colorado - There is an immediate need for hay, feed and fencing supplies.  Donations should be taken to CHS Grassland.

Oklahoma - If you would like to donate you can do so by mail or online.  Make checks payable to the Oklahoma Cattleman's Foundation and put "fire relief" in the memo line and send to P.O. Box 82395, Oklahoma City, OK 73148.

Texas - The Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association is soliciting hay donations. To establish donation drop off and transport contact the association.