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Man who lost 50 head of cattle in Panhandle Fires talks about recovery

Panhandle victims look back
Posted at 5:18 PM, Mar 29, 2024

Discretion: This article and video contain images of dead animals.

WACO, Texas — It’s been one month since the largest wildfire in U.S. history broke out in the Texas Panhandle.

25 News reached back out to a family who lost more than 50 head of cattle in the blaze who said they’re getting back on their feet and going forward.

This was the scene on Richard Wells' ranch after the fire swept through his farmland.

He said, “There was no way to prepare. I saw smoke in my rear view and in a matter of 10 minutes it was right on us. You just prayed you were going to walk away from it.”

He walked away from it, but lost nearly a million dollars’ worth of property including 50 head of cattle, 30 miles of fencing, 200 round bales of hay, 5,000 square bales and three hay sheds.

“The worst thing I’ve ever been through in my life. Scary and discouraging. You either quit or get back up and keep going," Wells said.

And “keep going” is his mantra, and it was easy with all the help they received.

Volunteers from all over coming to help.

He said, “The outpouring has been great. People we didn’t even know got our name and sent hay or fence materials. Or money to buy those types of things.”

Some good news for all those fire victims.

The small business administration approved Governor Greg Abbott’s request for disaster declarations which will help fire victims get low interest loans to rebuild their homes and businesses.

Now the grass is starting to grow back on the scorched land, and it’s giving Richard Wells hope for brighter things to come.

He said, “Now people are funneling back to the coffee shop and talking about miracles like the one vehicle that didn’t burn or the baby calf that shows up three days after the fire miraculously in great shape. Those are the things that keep us going every day.”

Since there were so many cattle killed in the fires, Wells said the price of beef may still go up, but that wouldn’t be for about 18 months.