After the smoke cleared following the fires that swept from northern Texas to southern Kansas, many land and livestock owners found their property had been extensively damaged. Local farmers and ranchers immediately began gathering hay donations for those dealing with the damages.
"The fire burned almost 1 million acres of land in Northwest Oklahoma, Southwest Kansas and the Texas Panhandle. These guys lost everything, hay, machinery, cattle and homes. Some of these people even died," Wheeler Coburn, co-organizer of the hay donations, said.
Coburn and the second organizer, Hugh Plagg, chose to donate hay due to its urgency.
"That is the most urgent need, because they lost their hay and their animals aren't going to have anything to eat. The grass is gone and they won't have any grass until May. So, they are probably 45 days away from the cows having anything to eat," Coburn said.
According to Coburn, a total of 10 farmers and ranchers have contributed to the donation project. Between all the donators, the group has been able to send one semi-truck with approximately 40 bales to one of the affected locations on Monday morning. A second load with the same amount of bales will be sent on Tuesday morning and a third will be ready as soon as possible.
"I would like to give accolades to the truck driver. I don't know who he is but he is doing this for free," Coburn said, stressing that everything in this project was donated with no cost to the farmers affected by the fires.
He went on to say that the group intends to send another load to the affected farmers when enough hay is donated. Coburn also said the group is accepting cash donations that will be used to support the farmers and ranchers with materials other than hay.
"If somebody wants to make a cash donation, they can go to friendsofguthrieanimals.org and put fire victims in the comment section. If we get enough donated we thought we might send some fencing materials down there too. There is literally hundreds of miles of fence that is going to have to be replaced," Coburn said.