Preliminary reports of the recent Texas wildfires are in, and it doesn't look good. Ranchers in the panhandle area of the Lone Star State suffered at least $21 million worth of damage. That's according to economist Steve Amosson, who gave the estimate to the San Antonio Express-News.
Amosson says the number includes at least $6.1 million in pasture damage and $6.1 million in fencing damage. It also includes $3.8 million in building damages, $4 million in livestock deaths and $1 million in emergency hay and feed. He notes the number may still rise.
"There are a lot of losses and we just don't know all of them at this time," Amosson says. "We're still dealing with chaos. They're still trying to find cattle." Sadly, the Texas Animal Health Commission counts at least 2,500 cattle and 1,900 pigs died in the fires. And that doesn't include the wildlife.
Other livestock may suffer smoke inhalation issues or find difficulty grazing on vastly reduced lands. The fires also claimed the lives of at least six people. In several cases, ranchers died trying to save livestock. Several firefighters suffered injuries as well.
Nearly one million acres between Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado burned in the fires. Dozens of people also lost their homes.
READ MORE: Plains Wildfires Claim at Least 7 Lives
Texans and other nearby ranchers are doing their part to step up relief efforts. In Texas, cattle auctions turned into fundraisers while others donate their own personal supplies. One rancher donated $30,000 worth of hay. Several people auctioned off hunts on their land with proceeds going to relief efforts.
In Kansas, Cargill donated $50,000 worth of fencing to fix more than 100,000 miles of fencing in Kansas alone. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared an emergency in six Texas counties. The state also eased up restrictions on grazing and supply transportation to help ailing ranchers and their livestock.
So far, authorities have not found the source or cause of the wildfires.
If you want to help, we suggest you donate to Farm Aid's Family Fund Disaster Fund. The organization provides relief funds and resources to the farmers affected by this tragedy and other disasters.