Nothing Left: Kansas Ranchers Lose Houses, Barns and Livestock in Uncontrollable Wildfires

Fierce winds across Kansas this week sparked a slew of wildfires, as some ranchers lost their homes, barns and livestock. Around Paradise, Kan., there are some ranch families who say there is nothing left as the fires robbed them of their homes and a portion of their herd. 

Bar S Ranch in Paradise, Kan., was one of the operations hardest hit. They lost a portion of their herd, structures on their ranch and even their home. Stephanie Stielow Dickerson of Bar S Ranch posted photos and videos on Facebook showing the aftermath. 

"It's heartbreaking," she says. "Everything my family worked for over the last 140 years is gone. Every piece of land we own or rent has been taken out by fire. We lost all of our hay and feed supply for the year for our cows."

Stephanie says they lost their house, barns and all of their show equipment and animals. In total, she says their ranch lost approximately 200 head of cows, calves and herd bulls. 

“My family's home and the home that we used to live in up at the feedlot. I mean farm equipment, it’s just gone. I haven't seen the full extent of it,” Grady Dickerson who’s the son of the owners of Bar S Ranch told KWCH.

The fires started Wednesday. Winds clocked in in excess of 100 mph, and down power lines sparked the series of fires. Bar S Ranch was one that was in the fire’s path, and their ranch burned to the ground. Reports show the smoke from the Kansas fires could be smelled as far east as central Missouri and as far north as Minnesota. 

It's still unknown how many livestock were lost in the fires. 

“I don't think I’ve seen my dad shaken up before, just that scared,” Dickerson told KWCH. “I mean, we're still scrambling trying to figure out what is okay and what isn't. There’s just so much stuff that's unaccounted for right now.”

Here's How to Help 

Neighboring Kansas farmers and ranchers have rushed in to help with the efforts this week. The Kanas Livestock Association is working to deploy resources, as LMA says there are four collection and distribution points for supply donations of hay, stockwater tanks, fencing supplies and more. Those designated collection points include: 

Rooks County
Heartland Regional Stockyards 
907 NW 3rd St, Plainville, KS

Russell County
Russell Livestock 
720 S. Fossil, Russell, KS

Russell County Fairgrounds 
702 Fairway Dr. Russell
Marcia Geir: 785-483-3157 

Lane County
3 E Rd 120, Dighton, KS
Erik Steffens: 620-397-1687

Cash Donations

LMA says for those who would like to contribute with cash donations, those contributions can be made through the Kansas Livestock Foundation by going to and clicking on donate or sending a check, with “wildfire relief” written in the memo line, to:

Kansas Livestock Foundation 
6031 S.W. 37th
Topeka, KS 66614

LMA says all proceeds will be used to help those affected by the recent weather event.

Rathbun Ranch Family 

In addition, a GoFundMe has been set up for Rathbun family. According to the official page, the Rathbuns were impacted by the wildfires as the fires burned the homestead to the ground and also killed a majority of the herd of cattle on the family’s property.

"The Rathbun’s are grateful to God for the many blessings they can see, even in the event of this heartache and destruction, especially that God protected Jim’s life in a truly amazing and miraculous way. While they are hesitant to publicly ask for help, they also recognize that people want to do something, so they have humbly allowed me to set up this account for anyone wanting to donate toward getting Jim settled into a different home and the other costs that will surely come as they begin to move forward on the farm following this great loss. Thank you in advance for all of your love, support, and prayers on behalf of the family. God is good."

Here's a look at more devastation caused but the fires this week from social media. 


Latest News

12 Ways to Prevent the Spread of Disease in Feedlots

Sound management, health protocols and facilities maintenance can help achieve the ultimate goal of keeping cattle healthy and productive.

BQA Low Stress Cattle Handling Principles

Sound care and handling practices, based on years of experience and research are known to impact the well-being of cattle, individual animal health and herd productivity.

Idaho Dairy Demo Center Planned

The University of Idaho is building a massive dairy research center focused on the industry’s sustainability.

Is Grass-Fed Beef Healthier or Better for the Environment?

Oklahoma State University meat scientist Gretchen Mafi has studied the scientific differences between beef that comes from animals finished on a grain diet versus those animals finished on grass.

How To Give a Calf Electrolytes, The Dehydration Lifeline

Electrolytes can serve as a needed boost for a scouring calf. Here's a look at what’s in electrolyte products, how much electrolytes should be given and a few ways and tips on how to give electrolytes to a calf.

National Institute for Animal Agriculture to Host Equine Industry Leaders

Equine leaders will discuss the importance and sustainability of the working ranch horse at NIAA’s Annual Conference in April.