Nothing Left: Kansas Ranchers Lose Houses, Barns and Livestock in Uncontrollable Wildfires
AgDay 12/20/21 - Kansas Four Counties Fire
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.
Wildfire smoke from distant fires in the plains reached Michigan this morning, providing a smoky smell and a reddish sunrise. Fortunately, the smoke duration here is expected to be brief as the wind direction shifts today. #wmiwx #miwx pic.twitter.com/cTCF1jwqm4 — NWS Grand Rapids (@NWSGrandRapids) December 16, 2021
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:
Heartland Regional Stockyards
907 NW 3rd St, Plainville, KS
720 S. Fossil, Russell, KS
Russell County Fairgrounds
702 Fairway Dr. Russell
Marcia Geir: 785-483-3157
3 E Rd 120, Dighton, KS
Erik Steffens: 620-397-1687
Donations needed in Paradise. Please share:#fourcornersfire pic.twitter.com/rO5ZLW8R1j — Matt McCune (@ksufearless) December 17, 2021
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 www.kla.org 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.
Wildfires are continuing to cause issues across #Kansas. Here's a look at one burning right now west of Plainville. @ZachMartinTV is monitoring the situation. A live update on @KSNNews at 10. #kswx #wildfires Courtesy: Chelsie Wolf pic.twitter.com/1P637oLLmq — Emily Younger (@EmilyYoungerTV) December 16, 2021
"DUST BOWL 2021" This video from Main Street in Elkhart, Kan., is just one example of the severe conditions wind and dust are creating across Kansas. https://t.co/RaVNioniQB #kwch12 #storm12 #kswx pic.twitter.com/n2QJdzX0RJ — KWCH Eyewitness News (@KWCH12) December 15, 2021