Texas panhandle fire losses exceed $123 million

Firefighters battle flames from the reignited Smokehouse Creek fire outside of Miami. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Sam Craft)

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economists project the Panhandle wildfires caused $123 million in preliminary agricultural losses, making it the costliest on record.

More than 1.2 million acres burned beginning Feb. 26, making it the largest wildfire in Texas history. The losses include more than 12,000 cattle deaths, lost grazing values and fence repair costs, according to economists. The initial loss estimates span from February through the middle of March.

The following are loss estimates by category compiled by AgriLife Extension economists: $68.7 million for ranch infrastructure, fences, barns, corrals, well pump motors and windmills, stocks of hay or feed; $26 million for lost long-term grazing in fire damaged pastures and range and short-term emergency feeding; and $27 million in cattle losses due to wildfires including both cows and estimated losses to the season’s calf crop. Another $1 million in miscellaneous includes disposal costs for deceased animals and forced marketing losses.