Texas Recovering from Human, Livestock Losses From Plains Fires

March 23, 2017 02:53 PM

While the wildfires in the southern Plains claimed many livestock and wild animals, there were also human lives lost trying to save the animals they cared for greatly.

Cody Crockett, 20, and his girlfriend Sydney Wallace, 23, were found dead of smoke inhalation alongside their friend Sloan Everett, 35, trying to save cattle. According to the county administrator, all three were found close to one another.

Those weren’t the only lives lost, but the tragic deaths of Cody, Sydney, and Sloan helps symbolize the dedication and resilience of ranchers.

“My dad and my brother and I were out here trying to help the fire department where we could and move cattle around to get out of the path of the fire,” said Trent Cadra, a rancher from Wheeler County, Tx.

When Chris Schwerzenback, a rancher from Lipscomb County, Tx.,  got home, the fire was burning corner to corner across his property. The first change he had, he drove through the fire to his family. The flames were at his doorstep. After five hours, the house was still standing, but everything else was lost, including 36 head of cattle.

“Right now, I’ve got more hay than I have cattle, thanks to people I’ve never met,” said Schwerzenback.

Almost as soon as the fires ignited, fellow farmers and ranchers across Texas wanted to help. The most immediate need was hay, which flowed into Panhandle communities by semi loads.

“When you talk about agriculture as a community, it’s a loving community that cares for people,” said J.R. Sprague, an extension agent with Libscomb County Agri-Life. “When [people are] in a time of need, their neighbors are going to step up and help them.”

All three fires are now 100 percent contained, meaning the long recovery process is beginning.

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