Wildfires in Arizona continue to burn out of control, almost two weeks after the fire started.
As of Wednesday, the fire has burned more than 600 square miles and is reported to be the second largest fire in Arizona history. Firefighters from as far away as New York have been called in to fight the fire, and no containment of the fire is in sight. The largest fire in Arizona history burned more than 732 square miles in 2002.
The agriculture industry in Arizona is being impacted by the fire, with livestock farmers being the most affected, says Julie Murphree, director of public relations for the Arizona Farm Bureau.
The fire has caused some cattle to become stranded without feed, and Murphree says the Farm Bureau is working to get feed to the marooned cattle.
Other displaced livestock are being relocated. Summer pastures have been burned in some places, but the cattle were not on them. Ranchers in the affected areas are reported to be OK at this time.
“So far, we have not heard of dairy farms in the area that have been impacted,” notes Murphreee.
Robert Hagevoort, extension dairy specialist with New Mexico State University, says that the dairy industry in New Mexico has yet to be impacted by the Arizona fires. “The majority of the dairy farms in New Mexico are located on the east side of the state, well out of range of the fire.”
But Hagevoort says New Mexico dairy farms have had their fair share of fires to deal with. “One fire burned more than 71,000 acres and ran right around a couple dairy farms. One dry manure lagoon caught on fire and smoldered for three to four weeks,” he says.
Another fire surrounded a dairy and caused the farm to relocate the cows from the corrals to an irrigated wheat field. There have also been several fires in the Texas panhandle area. “All of the fires are out right now, but there have been lots and lots of fires in our area,” notes Hagevoort.
Lack of rainfall has provided the perfect conditions for fires. Typically, June, July and August is when New Mexico sees the most rain. “We had a half inch of rain last week; otherwise, there has been no measurable rainfall since August of last year,” explains Hagevoort. “Hopefully, we will get some rain fall and the fire risks will diminish.”
For more on the Arizona wildfires, check out this news clip from ABC News.