Wildfire Damage to Oklahoma Farms, Ranches Estimated at $26M

May 14, 2018

A report from Oklahoma State University says wildfires that scorched western and northwestern parts of the state and killed two in April caused an estimated $26 million in damage to livestock, pastures, fences and buildings.

A news release says the estimate by Derrell Peel of the Cooperative Extension Service will likely change as a more information is gathered.

Calculations are based on preliminary losses of about 1,600 head of cattle and damage to more than 2,100 miles of fencing.

Peel says the calculations don’t include losses to vehicles, farming equipment, homes or other personal property and that the losses could cause long-lasting financial impacts to the ranchers involved. Livestock prices aren’t expected to be affected.

Wildfires that burned from April 11-20 scorched 547 square miles.

About half of Oklahoma continues to experience drought conditions and western Oklahoma is experiencing exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The report developed by climatologists, forecasters and others says almost all the western half of the state, including the Oklahoma Panhandle, is abnormally dry or worse. Almost 650,000 people live in areas of the state affected by drought conditions.

More than 23 percent of the state is in exceptional drought, the driest category. More than 34 percent of the state is in extreme drought or worse while about 42 percent is in severe drought or worse.

Drought has been blamed for a decline in the state’s wheat harvest. The Oklahoma Wheat Commission estimates farmers will harvest about 36 percent less wheat this year than they did a year ago.

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