LAKE CITY, Kansas – A fire that’s been burning since early last week in south central Kansas is still burning. The worst area continues to be Barber County, which is 91 percent contained.
The Commanche County portion is finally out.
The wildfire has burned at least 574 square miles in Kansas and Oklahoma. Since most of the that is pastureland, the fire also took a lot of livestock. It’s made a big impact on a lot of ranchers. The fire burned all 9,000 acres of Deerhead Ranch. Rancher, David Johnson, lost about 100 cattle and he’s still looking for more. He says that’s made a huge dent in his pockets.
“That diminishes my income because that’s that many more calves I won’t have to sell and I need to replace them cows,” Johnson said.
Johnson lost about $150,000 in cattle due to the Anderson Creek fire.
“They were burnt bad. Their backs were burnt and their feet were burnt,” said Johnson. “The shell on their foot starts to shuffle off after they’ve been burnt.”
We drove about seven to eight miles, viewing a large burned area. Brushes turned into charred wasteland. It’s a view no rancher wants to see.
He lost 50 cows and 50 calves, but only insured 27 cows and 27 calves.
“The insurance got so high and we keep backing off. We’re not insuring too many cattle. I insured that many because I said, well we might get hit by lightning under a tree or something. How many more can be under a tree?” Johnson said.
Johnson said he had to ship off 37 cows to a local packing plant and shot 35 calves because they were so severely burned. He has a couple of neighbors to thank for saving his remaining 110 cows.
“They risked their lives. They damn near didn’t get out of here. They had to make a run for it,” said Johnson. “They had to cut the fences. Went out to the south to get away from it.”
This has not only affected Johnson, but ranchers all across the southwest Kansas area.
“Many cattlemen are still trying to assess the extent of their losses, not only in cattle, but in fence construction and those types of things,” said KSN agricultural corespondent, John Jenkinson.
We also reached out to Alexander Ranch in Deerhead Township. Ranchers tell us the whole ranch was burned. That’s about 7,000 acres. It’ll cost them between $30,000 to $40,000 to fix the burned fencing.
They believe it will take a couple of weeks or months to replace the fence.