Oklahomans race to save livestock during wildfire outbreak

PAYNE COUNTY, Okla. - With countless wildfires happening around the state, many people are worried about their livestock.

One of those people is Payne County resident Janice Hopkins.

She had to evacuate her cows during Monday’s fire.

“You had to hurry. When you seen (sic) the flames and the fire, we had to hurry quick,” Hopkins said.

She came home to find fire racing across her property and straight for her cows.

“You didn’t have a warning or nothing,” Hopkins said. “They could burn up. You could lose them. This is my livelihood.”

Hopkins used food to motivate her cattle to move to a safer area.

With situations like this, one group is ready to spring into action.

Doctor Clayton McCook is part of a group called 'Oklahoma Large Animal First Responders.'

The group formed after the May 20, 2013 tornado.

“We really focus on storms, fires, floods, trailer accidents, things like that,” McCook said.

The group helps evacuate large animals before disaster strikes and aids with recovery.

The organization works under Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps.

When local or county jurisdictions need help, they notify the state’s Department of Agriculture and the agency deploys the first responders.

“A lot of the local jurisdictions don’t have access to five or 10 or more trailers and trucks to be able to go out,” McCook said. “They don’t necessarily have veterinarians on staff that are capable to go out and deal with a large-scale event.”

His group, which works primarily in the central part of the state, hasn’t been deployed so far this year.

However, similar groups are stationed in other areas of the state.

McCook advises owners of large animals to have a plan in case they have to evacuate their animals on their own.

To help with relief efforts, Western Equipment is accepting hay donations for animals in need.

Western Equipment Woodward is located at 3999 Lakeview Dr. in Woodward.

A relief fund has also been set up through the Oklahoma Cattleman’s Foundation to help with efforts in Beaver, Ellis, Harper and Woodward counties.