Farm Progress America, April 16, 2024

Source: Farm Progress. The original article is posted here.

Farm Progress America, April 16, 2024

Mike Pearson talks about the Smokehouse Creek fire and the last impacts of the tragedy.

Today marks the one month mark that the Smokehouse Creek Fire was fully contained. But now, the hard part begins-- rebuilding everything.

The Smokehouse Creek Fire ignited Feb. 26, 2024. It was a parched and windy day in the Texas Panhandle.

Over the next 20 days the Smokehouse Creek Fire burned over 1 million acres of land-- nearly the size of Rhode Island-- all of it was areas populated with farms, ranches and small communities.

One of those towns, Canadian, Texas witnessed the fire consume 30 homes and damaged hundreds more throughout the community.

People were killed including two women, Joyce Blankenship and Cindy Owens, both from Texas. Owns died trapped in her car during the blaze.

And the impacts will be felt in the ag community for a long time.

Texas Ag Commissioner Syd Miller says 85 percent of Texas cattle population lives in the Panhandle area. It's estimated nearly 7,000 head were killed by the fire.

Although those numbers are hard to verify as the fire burned through thousands of acres of fencing causing terrified animals to run for miles.

Families are forced to rebuild as attention in the headlines has shifted elsewhere.

Tatum Pennington, from Canadian Texas, who ranches with family, has this to say: "We dust off and we start building back one step at a time. It will take years but that's what we do because that's what Texans do."

Ranchers across the country mobilized to help peers in Texas Panhandle with trucks loaded with hay, fencing supplies, salt and mineral blocks, clothes and toys for those who have lost everything, were soon racing south.

Farmers and ranchers knew money would be needed in time but supplies were needed immediately.

In addition to farm convoys, other farm groups such as the Texas Farm Bureau, have gathered to help those in need.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Mike Pearson, farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness .

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