U.S. wildfires ravage ranches in three states

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Wildfires ravage ranches in 3 US states
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Wildfires ravage ranches in 3 US states
Cattle killed by wildfires lie in pasture burned by fires near Higgins, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.?
A fire extinguisher lies on the ground inside the remains of an equipment shed burned by wildfires near Lipscomb, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Cattle that were killed by wildfires lie in a pit before being buried near Laverne, Oklahoma, U.S., March 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rancher Nancy Schwerzenbach walks with dogs through pasture burned by wildfires near Lipscomb, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A rancher uses a tractor to load cattle killed by wildfires into a trailer for disposal near Higgins, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
The sun sets over pasture destroyed by wildfires near Laverne, Oklahoma, U.S., March 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Dogs owned by rancher Nancy Schwerzenbach play in pasture burned by wildfires near Lipscomb, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A fire damaged fence stands above pasture that has been destroyed by wildfires near Ashland, Kansas, U.S., March 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A pile of calves lie in a pit with cattle killed by wildfires before being buried near Laverne, Oklahoma, U.S., March 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A cow killed by wildfires lies in a pit before being buried near Laverne, Oklahoma, U.S., March 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A fire damaged tractor stands parked in an equipment shed that has been destroyed by wildfires near Laverne, Oklahoma, U.S., March 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Volunteers and ranchers sit at a table to talk about the aftermath of the Perryton fire in Lipscomb, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A fence stands above pasture that has not been destroyed by wildfires near Ashland, Kansas, U.S., March 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A scorched yucca plant stands alone in pasture burned by wildfires near Higgins, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Volunteers prepare to unload a trailer of donated hay to feed cattle that have been displaced by wildfires near Laverne, Oklahoma, U.S., March 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Scorched trees stand above pasture burned by wildfires near Higgins, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Ranchers tease each other as they gather for breakfast in a cafe in Buffalo, Oklahoma, U.S., March 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A calf killed by wildfires lies in a burned pasture near Higgins, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Monty Ediger watches as a friend clears the site his home used to stand on after it was destroyed by wildfires in Englewood, Kansas, U.S., March 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A chimney is all that stands in the footprint of a home destroyed by wildfires near Laverne, Oklahoma, U.S., March 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A young boy yells to his father as they prepare to unload a trailer of donated hay to feed cattle that have been displaced by wildfires near Laverne, Oklahoma, U.S., March 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Kay Rottmayer, 65, looks at farm equipment that was destroyed by wildfires near Knowles, Oklahoma, U.S., March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "JACKSON WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A country road leads through a pasture burned by wildfires near Glazier, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Pitchforks that have had their handles burned by wildfires rest amongst remnants of a ranch outbuilding near Lipscomb, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "HIGGINS WILDFIRE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
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LIPSCOMB, Texas, March 15 (Reuters) - When the Schwerzenbach family saw a wildfire racing toward their remote ranch in Lipscomb, Texas, there was no time to run.

"We had a minute or two and then it was over us," said 56-year-old Nancy Schwerzenbach.

The fire, moving up to 70 miles per hour (112 kph), was one of several across more than 2 million acres (810,000 hectares) that hit the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma and Kansas last week, causing millions of dollars of damage and killing thousands of livestock.

Burning through nearly all 1,000 acres of the Schwerzenbach ranch, the fire killed some 40 cattle. A mile away, a young man in the rural community was killed.

"The fire was about two miles away before we knew what happened to us," she said.

Numerous smaller fires burned in Colorado, Nebraska and the Florida Everglades, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas ranchers are returning home to survey the damage from the fires, fueled by tinder-dry vegetation and high winds. Local farmers from the Great Plains have helped those who have been affected by the wildfires by donating hay and fencing material.

In Oklahoma, the fires scorched a Smithfield Foods Inc. hog farm in Laverne, killing some 4,300 sows.

"When we drive down the road and look out on the pasture lands, there's no grass. There's dead deer, dead cows, dead wildlife, miles of fence gone away. It looks like a complete desert," said Ashland Veterinary Center co-owner Dr. Randall Spare, who is helping in relief efforts in Clark County, Kansas.

Oklahoma Department of Agriculture State Veterinarian Rod Hall said bulldozers were being used to bury dead animals.

"They're digging large pits and burying the animals in there," he said.

In Texas, state government agencies estimate about 1,500 cattle were lost, according to Steve Amosson, an economist at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

"When we value the deaths of cattle at market value, including disposal costs, we're talking about $2.1 million at this point, and I expect that to go up," he said. "We're still dealing with chaos, they're still trying to find cattle."

Amosson estimates it could cost $6 million to recover 480,000 acres burned in Texas fires along with $4.3 million to replace and repair fences in the northern Texas Panhandle either destroyed by the fire or by cattle trampling them to escape the blaze.

Texas is the top U.S. cattle producing state with some 12.3 million head and Kansas is third at 6.4 million.

For Troy Bryant, 34, a rancher in Laverne, Oklahoma, the impact from the fires has been devastating. He lost livestock worth about $35,000 and fencing worth about $40,000.

"We saw 4,000 acres burned here. Some places further west of here lost much more," he said.

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