The Four County Fire: Farmers in northwest Kansas lose livestock due to wildfires

Local

RUSSELL COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Ranchers across Rooks County, Ellis County, Osborne County, and Russell County lost hundreds of cattle in what is being called the “Four County Fire.”

On Wednesday, Kansas was impacted by a major severe weather event that included dangerous winds, tornadoes, hail, and wildfires. Northwest Kansas, in particular, was strongly affected by a major wildfire that has been named the “Four County Fire.” It burned across nearly 400,000 acres, burning equipment, houses, buildings and killing hundreds of cattle in the process.

The Russell County sheriff says the community is still gathering the details of what has been lost but says that roughly 10 houses and buildings were burned in the fire. Three people, including a firefighter, were hospitalized.

“It’s devastating for these people. These people have worked their entire lives building these places. Last night, a lot of them lost what they’ve worked for, for a long time,” said Russell County Sherrif Fred Whitman.

Bar S Ranch, located a few miles south of Paradise, Kansas, was one of several ranches impacted by the wildfire.

Ken Stielow, the owner of Bar S Ranch, says reality has not hit him yet. His childhood home was burned, along with his daughter’s home and four generations of quality bread cattle. He is keeping busy and working to find and feed the cows he has left, but he says in the back of his mind is all the ranchers, and community members are going through the same thing. 

“There are several ranches in the area and many that I don’t even know yet that are affected. We have several neighbors that lost houses; it’s gonna be tough for a small community this way to rebuild,” said Stielow. 

He says that whether it’s generators, food, fencing, or labor, over the next few weeks, the community will need a helping hand.

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