Panhandle rocked by rash of wildfires
Here's how to help
Information as of 3:24 p.m. Thursday, March 30.
The Panhandle has been rocked by deadly wildfires. Here’s what we know — and how to help.
Wind and dry conditions fueled wildfires that ignited across the Texas Panhandle on March 6. Multiple massive fires turned deadly, killing four people, injuring firefighters, and destroying homes and livelihoods as ranches suffered damage and large livestock losses.
The Amarillo Area Foundation, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, and the Working Ranch Cowboys Foundation are teaming up to help ranchers impacted by the wildfires across the Panhandle region. Monetary relief can be given to those affected by donating to the Amarillo Area Foundation's Disaster Relief Fund.
Location: Ochiltree, Hemphill and Lipscomb counties.
Size: More than 318,150 acres, or 492 square miles
Containment: 85 percent
LEFORS EAST FIRE
Location: Gray County
Size: About 135,000 acres, or 210 square miles
Containment: 100 percent
DUMAS COMPLEX FIRE
Location: Potter County, near the city of Amarillo
Size: 28,800 acres, or 45 square miles
Containment: 100 percent
Source: Texas A&M Forest Service
Ways to Help
This list is not a complete list of resources but is compiled as we receive information.
Numerous volunteer fire departments across the Panhandle always are in need of donations and supplies such as food and water. Contact local volunteer departments in affected cities and counties to find the best way to donate and what their specific needs may be.
Following devastating wildfires in the Texas Panhandle and Governor Greg Abbott’s request for assistance, the United States Department of Agriculture has made critical resources available for those affected.
“The State of Texas thanks our federal partners at the USDA for their quick response in making resources available to those impacted by this disaster,” Abbott said. “Those affected by the wildfires have a long road ahead in rebuilding their lives and property and this assistance will aid significantly in that effort. In true Texas fashion, I have no doubt that the Panhandle community will come out of this stronger than before.”
The Farm Service Agency under the USDA has made the following programs available to those affected:
- Livestock Indemnity Program
- Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program
- Tree Assistance Program
- Emergency use of the Conservation Reserve Program for grazing
For detailed information on these programs and how to apply, click here.
The FSA is also offering assistance through the Emergency Conservation Program, which provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters. Additional information can be found here.
Funds for grieving families
A fund has been established for donations to the family of Cade Koch, 25, who died in the wildfire in Lipscomb County, at Happy State Bank’s Canadian Branch, according to Branch President Ronda Bartlett. Donations can be made at any Happy State Bank location or by sending donations to the Canadian Branch at Happy State Bank, P.O. Box 97, Canadian, TX 79104.
The wildfire in Gray County killed Cody Crockett, 20; Sydney Wallace, 23; and Sloan Everett, 35, who were attempting to free cattle from fenced ranchland, according to reports from NewsChannel 10, The Associated Press and The Pampa News (subscription required). A YouCaring donation page has been set up for funeral expenses for Crockett and Wallace; Panhandle PBS is attempting to independently verify the legitimacy of the fund before linking to it.
For monetary donations, checks can be made out to Gray County. Be sure to include “Lefors fire” in the memo line of the check to specify the money is for fire relief. Checks can be sent to 205 N. Russell St., Pampa, Texas 79065.
The Pampa Chamber of Commerce, 200 N. Ballard St., is a collection point for donated resources to assist area volunteer fire departments including Briscoe, Hoover, Lefors, McLean and Mobeetie with equipment maintenance needs and food supplies. The chamber is collecting Gatorade and non-perishable snacks for those departments and also is collecting money for gift cards for vehicle-related equipment from area retailers. For details on how to contribute, contact Jana Gregory at (806) 661-8188.
A specific fund has been set up for the Lefors Volunteer Fire and EMS Service, Inc., send donations to:
Lefors Credit Union
Attn: Carole Watson
P.O. Box 425
Lefors, Texas 79054
To help the Canadian Volunteer Fire Department, Inc., send donations to:
Happy State Bank
Attn: Scott Brewster
P.O. Box 300
Canadian, Texas 79104
To help the Lipscomb County Firefighters Association, a fund has been established at:
FirstBank Southwest – Booker Branch
Attn: Pam Sanders
P.O. Box 636
Booker, TX 79005
The Texas A&M Agrilife Extension and the Texas A&M Forest Service are directing general questions about donations and relief efforts to (806) 677-5628.
American Red Cross Texas Panhandle
The Texas Panhandle office of the American Red Cross is in “standby mode” after helping with shelter for people who evacuated from their homes due to the wildfires, local executive director Kiley Murray said.
Red Cross volunteers had shelters open in Amarillo and Canadian on the first night of wildfire activity and manned other stations where water and snacks made available, he said.
The chapter now will focus on getting in contact with families that lost homes.
“What we do is we go in and meet with the family and do an evaluation based on their loss,” Murray said.
Assistance can be made in the form of a debit card loaded with funds for shelter, food, clothing or immediate needs, plus hygiene provisions and other items, he said. The Red Cross chapter also can make follow-up referrals to help wildfire victims obtain prescriptions and connect with agencies that provide for other needs.
The idea behind Red Cross assistance is to provide help for getting through a few days, as opposed to lengthier assistance, Murray said.
The chapter has had calls from people inquiring about donating money, and it is accepting donations, he said.
Donors may decide, if they wish, to give to the chapter overall to help it with its endeavors. Or, they can designate how they want the funds to be restricted, such as being used for specific disasters, such as these wildfires, or to stay in the Texas Panhandle, Murray said.
In 2011, the American Red Cross went through a nationwide organization and local leadership changes that placed the Amarillo chapter office under the umbrella of the charity’s North Texas Region. Major wildfires at that time spurred local donations, but a controversy arose over how the chapter handled and accounted for those funds. As a result of the controversy, the controversy, the Red Cross placed tens of thousands of dollars donated locally for disaster relief in a fund designated for relief efforts in the Panhandle area.
Other donation avenues
All About Burgers Etc., 3245 Fairlanes Blvd. in Borger, will use any cash donations made to purchase food, drink and supplies for firefighters on location.
Dalhart Fire Department will accept donations between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at 110 Denrock Ave.
Hoover Volunteer Fire Department will accept supplies and donations at the Hoover Fire Station, 2305 Chisholm Trail in Pampa. Donations will go toward repairs and maintenance to equipment. Needed supplies include bottled water, Gatorade, non-perishable snacks, face wipes, chap stick, waterproof sunscreen. Monetary donations also can be mailed to Hoover VFD, P.O.Box 820, Pampa, TX, 79066.
West Texas A&M University Agriculture Department in Canyon is accepting donations. They can be reached by phone at 806-651-2550.
(Information courtesy The Pampa News - subscription required)
Hay and feed donations
Assistance is being offered for those who experienced losses during wildfires in both Texas Panhandle and Oklahoma.
The Texas Cattle Feeders Association posted that it does not yet have accurate estimates of cattle deaths, “but more than 5,000 head have been displaced and are in immediate need of hay and feed supplies.”
According to TCFA, hay donations for Texas Panhandle ranchers may be arranged by contacting the following.
- Gray County Livestock Supply Point / Clyde Carruth Pavilion / 301 Bull Barn Drive, Pampa, TX
- Contact – Mike Jeffcoat, CEA / Office 806-669-8033 / Cell 580-467-0753
- Lipscomb County Livestock Supply Point / Lipscomb County Show Facility / 202 West Main Street, Lipscomb, TX
- Contact – J.R. Sprague, CEA / Office 806-862-4601 / Cell 806-202-5288
In Wheeler County, Agrilife Extension has set up collection points for hay, feed and fencing supplies to assist ranchers with recovery. Hay and feed can be taken to the Wheeler Feed Yard, 8074 County Road 10, in Wheeler.
The Texas A&M Agrilife Extension and the Texas A&M Forest Service have announced additional contact information for people wanting to donate feed and ranch supplies to affected ranchers. The agencies ask that interested donors contact the locations prior to delivering supplies:
Canadian AH&N Ranch Supply
100 Hackberry Trail
Canadian, Texas 79104
Contact: Hemphill Co. Extension Agent Andy Holloway
(806) 323-9114 (office), (325) 668-0466 (mobile)
Lipscomb County Show Facility
202 W. Main St.
Lipscomb, Texas 79056
Contact: Lipscomb Co. Extension Agent J.R. Sprague
(806) 862-4601 (office), (806) 202-5288 (mobile)
Texas Animal Health Commission will provide information for producers with questions about lost or found animals, as well as disposal of carcasses.
Here is some additional information:
- If you find cattle or other livestock with official identification, document the number, location of the animal(s), call the TAHC at 512-719-0733 or 806-354-9335, and TAHC will contact the owner.
- If you find stray cattle that have a brand, call Texas Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) at 817-332-7064 for brand identification. If cattle have strayed onto your property, you must report them to the sheriff’s office in the county where you are located in within five days of discovery to be eligible for reasonable payment for maintenance of or damages caused by the estray livestock. For more information regarding Texas’ estray laws visit Texas Agriculture Code, Chapter 142.
WRCA Foundation Wildfire Relief Fund
The Working Ranch Cowboys Association Foundation created its wildfire relief fund after deadly wildfires tore through the Texas Panhandle in 2006.
The foundation is again accepting donations, and contributors can designate that their funds remain in a particular area or be used in relief efforts for victims of a particular fire, WRCA Treasurer Randy Whipple said.
“We’re actively looking for donations so that we can help these folks immediately and then in the long run, two or three months from now, when they’re still trying to put their place back together.”
Short-term help includes assistance with hay and feed, as well as donations for shelter and immediate needs. They association is helping with connecting ranchers with veterinary care for livestock, he said.
The foundation also intends to help with more long-term needs, as it did in 2006 when it conducted a program that helped ranchers obtain pipe fencing for basically freight costs, Whipple said. The foundation obtained donated pipe from manufacturers to then provide to ranchers, he said.
“We’re going to try to look at that again,” he said.
Donations can be made online at wrca.wildapricot.org/wrcadonate2016/ or by mail at 408 S.W. Seventh Ave., Amarillo, TX 79101.
Call 806-374-9722, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.