Panhandle rocked by rash of wildfires

Here's how to help

The Dumas Complex Fire, near Amarillo, began March 6; this was photographed March 7.The Dumas Complex Fire, near Amarillo, began March 6; this was photographed March 7.Photo by Chuck Speed

By Karen Welch and Mike Smith — Content Producers

Information as of 4:37p.m. Thursday, March 9

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.

 

PERRYTON FIRE

Location: Ochiltree, Hemphill and Lipscomb counties.

Size: More than 318,150 acres, or 492 square miles

Containment: 85 percent

The Texas A&M University Forest Service has released this map of the Perryton Fire,  in Hemphill, Lipscomb and Ochiltree counties.The Texas A&M University Forest Service has released this map of the Perryton Fire, in Hemphill, Lipscomb and Ochiltree counties.TAMU Forest Service

LEFORS EAST FIRE

Location: Gray County

Size: About 135,000 acres, or 210 square miles

Containment: 100 percent

The Texas A&M University Forest Service has released this map of the Lefors East Fire, which ignited acreage in Gray and Wheeler counties.The Texas A&M University Forest Service has released this map of the Lefors East Fire, which ignited acreage in Gray and Wheeler counties.TAMU Forest Service

 

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

Jeff Bettger shot this photo of the fires at about 10 p.m., March 6, while on a United Airlines flight from Denver to Dallas-Fort Worth.Jeff Bettger shot this photo of the fires at about 10 p.m., March 6, while on a United Airlines flight from Denver to Dallas-Fort Worth.Jeff Bettger

 

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.

 

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.

 

Disaster relief

Gray County

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

 

Hemphill County

To help the Canadian Volunteer Fire Department, Inc., send donations to:

Happy State Bank

Attn: Scott Brewster

P.O. Box 300

Canadian, Texas 79104

 

Lipscomb County

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)

 

Ranchers relief

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:

 

Hemphill County

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

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)

 

Livestock

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.

 

Additional assistance

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 wrca@wrca.org.

 

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Admin. satellite imagery shows Texas Panhandle wildfire burn scars.National Oceanic & Atmospheric Admin. satellite imagery shows Texas Panhandle wildfire burn scars.Texas Storm Chasers Facebook