Hay is still the number one priority in wildfire relief efforts throughout northwest Oklahoma, but now, ranchers are starting to take account of miles and miles of fences that were lost in the flames.
While most students are enjoying their spring break at the beach, News 9 StormTracker Marty Logan found two students providing a much-needed service for ranchers who have lost nearly everything.
All day long, Oklahoma State University students Jackson Day and Fussy Cook braved the swirling dust storms left in the wildfire's wake to roll up yard after yard of charred fence wires.
“I just knew I had to do something,” said Day. “We knew they needed help. They needed help a lot more than we needed fun.”
Ranchers said now that the community is inundating the area with hay for their surviving livestock, they need somewhere to put the animals.
“We’ve still got cattle alive and they’re still wandering in the roads and whatnot, so we’re trying to get these fences put up,” said rancher Jody Bryant.
Most of the fencing has to be replaced altogether.
“This fence is probably 50 or 60 years old, so it’s all wooden posts, and they’re all burnt up," Cook said.
“You can never re-stretch that wire again,” said Day. “The fire was so hot that it essentially made it brittle because it kind of just overcooked it.”
Cook bought a load of wire himself to donate to the ranchers, and his boss chipped in new posts and steeples.
These are just some of the efforts that can help the area get back on track, and Bryant said it is much appreciated.
“If I had to go through a fire, I’d rather go through it here in Oklahoma than anywhere else," he said. "Everybody has pulled together, and it has been so wonderful watching these trucks roll in. It kind of gives you goosebumps.”
Bryant hopes, however, that the initial outpouring of support will continue until the ranchers regain their livelihoods.
"You can never have too much, if you ask me. Everyone will say yeah, we’re doing good right now. We’ve got what we need, but what about three, four months down the road?" he said.
To donate money or fencing supplies to the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Foundation relief fund, click here.
Donate hay at the following locations:
For donations of trucking services contact the Harper County Extension Office at (580) 735-2252.
If you are a rancher seeking federal assistance, click here.