|Kansas Farm Bureau (KFB) is collaborating with the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) and the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) to coordinate resources and donations following the devastating wildfires and high winds on Dec. 15.|
“We know Farm Bureau members of Kansas are willing and eager to help their fellow farmers and ranchers in need,” says KFB President Rich Felts. “We know from past recovery efforts, disaster assistance is most effective if it’s delivered quickly. That’s why we’re partnering with KDA and KLA to get information and relief to farmers and ranchers as fast as possible.”
Sen. Jerry Moran thanked emergency services and is in the area today to see the damage.
“Thank you to the first responders who acted quickly on Wednesday to help Kansas farmers, ranchers and families as fires took hold in counties across Kansas, including Rooks, Ellis, Osborne and Russell,” Sen. Moran says. “Today, I am looking to see what damage has been done and if I can provide federal assistance or connect folks with existing federal resources. Thank you to the Kansas Farm Bureau board members and staff for accompanying me on my tour. If I can be of assistance to you or your family, please reach out to my office at [email protected].”
The KDA resource page is the best source for those wishing to help with hay and other supplies. The page also includes contact information for farmers and ranchers who need emergency hay or have livestock welfare questions.
KLA has created a relief fund for people who wish to make monetary donations. One-hundred percent of the money collected will be distributed to affected producers, and KLA membership is not required to receive funds.
The Kansas Forest Service estimates fires burned nearly 400,000 acres in the state on Dec. 15. The largest fire charred approximately 365,000 acres in Russell, Ellis, Rooks and Osborne counties. Dubbed the Four County Fire, the wind not only fueled the blaze, it hampered firefighters from finding it initially.
“Hell would be the best way to describe it,” says Russell County Fire Chief Dustin Finkenbinder. “The dust was so bad we couldn’t see the fire. All we could do was rely on smell.”
Finkenbinder says the fire had burned about two miles by the time crews arrived on site before eventually growing 10 to 12 miles wide. More than 24 hours after the initial call, he was still monitoring smoldering bale piles and other hot spots for embers that could ignite new fires.
State and local officials are still determining the impacts of these fires, though early reports suggest homes, outbuildings and livestock were lost in the flames.
Farmers and ranchers impacted by the fires should contact their local U.S. Department of Agriculture service center for information on federal programs and services to help with disaster recovery.