Alabama extends aid to Texas wildfire victims

Providing hay and hope amidst devastation

Editorial Assistant
Posted 3/27/24

Imagine. You're a seasoned cattle rancher, tending to your herd and managing your land with precision and care, day in and day out. The vast expanse of your land stretches before you, providing ample …

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Alabama extends aid to Texas wildfire victims

Providing hay and hope amidst devastation


Imagine. You're a seasoned cattle rancher, tending to your herd and managing your land with precision and care, day in and day out. The vast expanse of your land stretches before you, providing ample grazing grounds for your cattle and promising a livelihood deeply intertwined with the rhythms of rural life.

But then, in an instant, everything changes.

A fierce wildfire breaks out, tearing through the landscape with relentless fury. The flames engulf your cattle. Your livelihood. The very land you've nurtured for generations.

This is the harsh reality faced by many cattle ranchers in Texas as they grapple with the aftermath of a catastrophic wildfire.

While firefighters in Texas have successfully contained the largest wildfire in the state's history after a three-week battle across the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles, the road to recovery for Texan cattle ranchers remains daunting, with thousands of cattle lost and millions of acres scorched.

Alabama is extending support to Texas in the aftermath of the Smokehouse Creek Fire by providing hay to aid in Texas' ongoing recovery efforts from this unparalleled natural disaster.


Dubbed the Smokehouse Creek Fire, the inferno ignited on Feb. 26 north of Stinnett, Texas, in Hutchinson County, rapidly spreading to encompass 40,000 acres within days. According to reports, the fire had engulfed an estimated 1.058 million acres by the third day, earning the distinction of being the largest wildfire ever recorded in the Lone Star State. The blaze subsequently crossed into Oklahoma, scorching an additional 70,000 acres in the Oklahoma Panhandle.

On March 16, Texas A&M Forest Service officials issued the final update, declaring the nearly 1.06 million-acre inferno fully contained.

"Final Update: the #SmokehouseCreekFire in Hutchinson County is 1,058,482 acres and 100% contained," officials announced in a tweet. "All state resources have been released and the fire has transitioned back to the local unit. #txfire."

For comparison, Baldwin County is 1.297 million acres. The difference between our county and the area of the fire is 237,000 acres or 18.4%, which means if the Smokehouse Creek Fire would have happened exclusively in our county, 81.6% of Baldwin County would have been burned.

The blaze claimed the lives of at least two people, destroyed over 500 structures and decimated vital grasslands essential for the area's cattle ranchers. According to reports from ranchers in the region, the fire happened during calving season.


In response to the catastrophe, the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) has taken the lead in organizing relief efforts to provide hay for Texas cattle producers grappling with the losses. Partnering with the Alabama Cattlemen's Association (ACA) and the Alabama Trucking Association (ATA), ADAI aims to extend a helping hand to their counterparts in Texas.

"I reached out to my counterpart, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, to express my sympathy for their loss of thousands of cattle and millions of acres of pastureland and offer Alabama’s assistance during this disaster," Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate said in a news release. "We have committed our resources to help provide Texas farmers with hay for their cattle during this devastating time along with our partners at ACA and ATA. When I reached out to the associations, they did not hesitate to offer their services."

According to reports, early estimates indicate that over 7,000 head of cattle perished in the wildfire. The ultimate tally directly attributable to the fires could escalate to 10,000. However, the true count may not be known for several months, as ranchers consider euthanizing severely injured cattle.

"I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to Alabama Commissioner Rick Pate and the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries for their generous donation of hay in the wake of the Texas Panhandle wildfires," Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said in the release. "This act of solidarity underscores the strength of our agricultural community and the importance of standing together in times of need. We have received unwavering support from our fellow state departments of agriculture and their assistance has been instrumental in navigating the road to recovery during this challenging time."

Although the fires are now contained, the devastation spans over 1.5 million acres of prime cattle land, with more than 85% of Texas' cattle population situated in the Panhandle region. To aid in the recovery effort, ACA has established a website,, for hay donations. Those who do not have hay available but would like to help the farmers can make a tax-deductible donation on the same website.

For those that are able to donate a truckload or individuals hay bales, several drop points have been set up in Alabama, one of which is located here in Baldwin County.


A critical aspect of this relief endeavor involves facilitating the transportation of donated hay to Texas. The Alabama Trucking Association (ATA) has taken the lead in addressing this logistical challenge. As the primary transportation entity in Alabama, ATA handles over 80% of the state's manufactured tonnage.

"During any crisis, truckers answer the call. When we reached out to Alabama truckers to solicit their help to deliver much needed hay to Texas, the response was immediate: 'Just tell us when and where,'" said Mark Colson, president and CEO of the Alabama Trucking Association, in the release. "We stand in solidarity with Commissioner Pate, Commissioner Miller, the Alabama and Texas Cattlemen and all of those who have been impacted by this natural disaster. The trucking industry in Texas, led by my friend John Esparza, has been on the front lines helping those in need, and we are proud to play a small role to help bring relief to our friends there."

For inquiries regarding hay donations, contact Reid McGuire at the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association at (334) 265-1867 or email Trucking industry representatives interested in supporting this initiative are encouraged to reach out to Susan Seymour at the Alabama Trucking Association via email at