Loss estimates completed for March wildfires, help needed to rebuild

Loss estimates completed for March wildfires, help needed to rebuild

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - It's been exactly one month since wildfires began to spread throughout the Panhandle, taking land, lives, structures and livestock.

It was originally estimated there was $21 million in losses during the fires in March. But today AgriLife tells us that number has risen to $25.1 million. And millions more are needed to rebuild.

More than 521,000 acres burned across the Texas Panhandle in March. AgriLife tells us the tally of dead animals is now up to 4,000. With farmers and ranchers having to pay to properly dispose of carcasses, many are truly struggling.

"I went ahead and estimated that an additional cost of 50 dollars a head to dispose of them and which just adds already to the loss figure," said Agricultural Economist Dr. Steve Amosson. "The irony is, you lose an animal and then you have more costs because you have to dispose of it."

Amosson also tells us 1,000 miles of fence need to be replaced after burning down.

To put that into perspective, that's about the distance from Amarillo to Atlanta. And with that much fence, a lot of help is still needed.

"Most of them they're going to have to be off the pastures this entire year and in other cases of course the rebuilding and repairing a fence to maintain what cattle they have if you're going to maintain that operation are being done now and probably will continue throughout the summer," said Amosson.

Amosson says this is one of the biggest losses he has seen in his tenure. While the fires have now been extinguished, people's spirits have not.

"That's the one thing about agriculture and especially high plains agriculture, Texas agriculture is... we're tough. And they will bounce back. But again, it's going to be a struggle in the short term," said Amosson.

These farmers and ranchers are still in need of help. If you would like to find out how you can do that, Amosson tells us the best way is to contact your district office or county agents and they can send you in the direction of where help is needed most.

Almost every area is in need of fencing supplies and people to volunteer to rebuild.

You can also donate to the Wildfire Relief Fund. For more information, click here.

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