Relief effort under way to help ranchers affected by southcentral Kansas wildfire

MANHATTAN, Kan. – A large wildfire that started in Woods County, Okla., and spread to Comanche and Barber counties in Kansas burned an estimated 100,000 acres, hay reserves, fences and other personal property March 22-23. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback declared a state of disaster emergency for the affected area. This declaration authorizes state resources to assist communities impacted by the fires.

The Kansas Livestock Association is working with several organizations to assist with the relief effort. An immediate need for area ranchers is hay. The Farmers Cooperative in Coldwater and Farmers Cooperative Equity Company in Medicine Lodge have been identified as locations to receive hay donations. Tractors will be available to unload. Questions on delivery logistics can be directed to Sandra Levering at 620-518-2247 for Coldwater or Chris Boyd at 620-243-2584 for Medicine Lodge.

The Kansas Livestock Foundation, the charitable arm of KLA, is accepting cash donations to help those affected by the fire. Donors can make checks payable to the Kansas Livestock Foundation and put “Disaster Relief” in the memo line. Send to 6031 S.W. 37th St., Topeka, KS 66614.

Proceeds from the progressive sale of a heifer donated by KLA president elect David Clawson and Clawson Ranch Partnership will be sent to KLF as part of the relief effort for wildfire victims. The heifer will be re-sold several times March 31 at Pratt Livestock to generate funds.

In addition, the Kansas Department of Agriculture wants to remind Kansans that counties designated under drought status, including those currently impacted by the wildfire, are exempt from oversize or overweight permits. That means oversize permits are not required for motor carriers transporting hay into counties impacted by the wildfire. However, motor carriers must adhere to the following: Motor carriers shall not operate during the period beginning 30 minutes after sunset and ending 30 minutes before sunrise, and shall comply with the flags, signs and lighting requirements applicable to over width vehicles. Not operate under conditions where visibility is less than 1⁄2 mile or when highway surfaces have ice or snow pack or drifting snow.

For a full list of counties that are subject to this exemption, see http://www.usda.gov/documents/2015-all-crop-list-counties.pdf.

Photo of wildfire in Oklahoma and Kansas, March 23, 2016, by Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

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