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Fighting Wildfire Cost Barber County $1.5M

Sean Sandefur

Barber County officials are looking to the federal government to help pay for firefighting efforts during last year’s massive wildfire.

The Kansas Forest Service says the wildfire last March was the largest in state history. The fire did the most damage in Barber County.

Barber County’s emergency management director Jerry McNamar says fighting the fire cost the county $1.5 million.

About $400,000 alone was spent on four National Guard Helicopters that dropped water on the fire over two days.

The county is hoping that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will help pay 75 percent of the fire suppression costs.

The fire killed nearly 800 cattle and destroyed at least 2,700 miles of fence worth $27 million.

At one time, more than 954 people were on the scene from five states. Some helped fight the fire, while others brought supplies and raised cash to help ranchers. Loads of hay were taken to ranches to help supplemental feed after the fire. Kansas residents also donated barbed wire, fence posts and cattle minerals. Cattle were sold at progressive auctions, with the funds going to the wildfire efforts.

In all, residents donated more than $528,359 to the Kansas Livestock Foundation for wildfire relief, said Todd Domer, with the Kansas Livestock Association.

The fire started near Anderson Creek in Oklahoma before moving into southern Kansas.


Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.


Deborah joined the news team at KMUW in September 2014 as a news reporter. She spent more than a dozen years working in news at both public and commercial radio and television stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Before relocating to Wichita in 2013, Deborah taught news and broadcasting classes at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.