May 15, 2018 01:44 PM – Wyatt Bechtel
The Mallard Fire has been burning for more than a week in the Texas Panhandle where the blaze has burned 74,464 acres or 116 sq. miles, primarily rangeland.
The fire started on the evening of May 8 near the Palo Duro Canyon area southeast of Amarillo approximately 25 miles. For the past week the fire has spread to the northeast reaching U.S. Highway 287 near the town of Goodnight. An evacuation was ordered for Goodnight late last week.
As of Monday night the fire is at 20% containment, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service. A total of 340 personnel are fighting the fire with 45 water trucks, six helicopters and five air tankers.
Firefighting has been difficult due to the rough terrain in the area and a fuel load consisting of dry grass, cedar and mesquite trees.
There have been no reports of cattle killed by the fire at this moment, however there has been a substantial amount of pasture loss, according to Jay O’Brien, partner in JA Cattle Company.
The JA Ranch, a historic ranch founded in 1876, has had a large amount of acreage burned by the Mallard Fire and three other smaller fires that O’Brien says were started by lightning on May 8. Cattle on the ranch have been moved within pastures to avoid fires but none have been evacuated.
O’Brien says because of the rugged terrain it is difficult to know if any cattle might have died.
“The fire is impacting our operations, there’s no question about that. But the main thing I’d want to communicate is how blessed we are to have the Texas Forestry Service takeover the effort to help protect all the ranches in the area,” O’Brien says.