Texas fire situation is of ‘historic proportions’

Texas fire situation is of ‘historic proportions’

20 April 2011

published by www.feedstuffs.com

USA — Reports have described Texas as having almost the “perfect fire storm,” a never-before-seen wildfire situation that has led to the scorching of nearly 1 million acres and destruction of hundreds of homes and buildings, according to AccuWeather.com.

“This is a situation of historic proportions,” said Victoria Koenig, public information officer with the Texas Forest Service, in a phone interview with AccuWeather.com. “The fuels are so dry. The winds are astronomical. The behavior of the winds is a perplexing situation. It’s never been like this before.”

Koenig added, “When you put all the ingredients together, you’re getting close to having the ‘perfect fire storm’.”

It’s not just homes and buildings that are affected, though. The Texas AgriLife Extension Service pointed out that livestock caught in the path of the recent wind-swept fires could suffer death, severe damage from burns and smoke inhalation.

Since April 6, while the Texas Forest Service has responded to fires that have burned more than 1 million acres, the as-yet-unknown number is the amount of livestock injured and dead in the wake of the fire.

“Locate them, provide adequate nutrition and then consult your veterinarian,” said Dr. Robert Sprowls, assistant agency director of the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory in Amarillo, Texas.

The fires came at a very inopportune time for ranchers who are in their calving season, said Dr. Ted McCollum, an AgriLife Extension livestock specialist. Not only will there be damage to the animals, but the dry soil profile doesn’t promise any recovery of those rangelands anytime soon, unless significant rain falls.

“We probably had a lot of calves that were laying out susceptible to the fire, as fast as it was moving across there,” McCollum said. “They had no place to go. Also there will be a lot of mothers with potentially scorched udders. The calves that survived won’t be able to suckle the mothers who have sore udders.”

AgriLife Extension and veterinarians are working on determining major symptoms to look for and what actions to take if lameness begins to appear, he said.

For more information on care of animals and pastures after wildfires, AgriLife Extension has posted information on the Texas Extension Disaster Education Network at http://texashelp.tamu.edu/004-natural/fires.php.

AgriLife Extension agents across the state are working with the Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas Animal Health Commission, Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Assn., Texas Independent Cattlemen’s Assn., Texas Cattle Feeders Assn. and Texas CattleWomen to set up livestock supply points in six different locations in the state.

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