Badger Hole fire destroys homes, kills livestock in Colorado and Kansas
The Badger Hole Fire burned through Baca County, Colo., and portions of Kansas, leaving a combined 50,670 acres burned. The fire began April 17 and was announced contained on April 20 after destroying multiple homes and structures as well as resulting in unknown livestock losses.
According to the Baca County Sheriff’s Office, this fire was among Baca County’s most destructive and largest fires. In investigating to determine losses, the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control has joined the Sheriff’s Department to provide the most efficient investigation possible. Though investigations are ongoing, the Sheriff’s Department said they do not believe the fire was a result of criminal activity.
Erroll Cook, Walsh, Colo., operates a cattle ranch as well as the Bridle Bit Feed Store in the area and was able to evacuate 64 cow calf pairs from harm’s way.
“We didn’t lose any cows,” he said. “We got them moved out of there with the help of neighbors. We loaded them on trailers and hauled them out. Moving them 10 or 12 at a time, it takes a while.”
Cook said he had heard of one cattle herd that was a total loss but hadn’t yet heard concrete numbers.
This time of year, most cattle in the area were on residue fields awaiting summer grass that has now been destroyed. Cook said the fire did burn some wheat fields by drying the wheat out and burning it in quick succession. One of the largest losses, he said, are fences.
“I’ve seen a circle of corn stalks (the fire) went through,” Cook said. “This time of year, there wasn’t anything that it burned vegetation wise or farming wise that it didn’t hurt.”
Cook said the losses encompass pasture ground, creek bottoms, as well as several operations’ hay supplies. Hay donations are coming into the area. Those wishing to donate can contact the Baca County Sheriff’s Office at (719) 523-6677 for delivery in Walsh, Colo.
Local cattlemen are in the process of reporting losses to the Baca County Farm Service Agency office and will be released at a later date.
“It’s just devastating,” he said. “It just makes you want to cry when you look at the cows and think about the wildlife affected.” ❖
— Spencer Gabel is a freelance writer from Wiggins, Colo., where she and her family raise cattle and show goats. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at Rachel Spencer Media.