Texas Truckers Bring Tires, Livestock Feed in Wildfire Aid

More Than 1 Million Acres Scorched in Panhandle Region
Hay transport in Texas
Bales of hay are transported on a rural Texas road as part of the wildfire relief effort. (Texas Farm Bureau via Facebook)

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Texas Trucking Association has been helping firefighters get truck tires to battle wildfires that burned more than 1 million acres in the rural Panhandle, disrupted rail freight and destroyed livestock and agriculture.

John Esparza, TXTA president and CEO, told Transport Topics wildfires were impacting transportation routes due to safety and visibility issues for weeks.

As of March 14, a disaster declaration Feb. 27 by Gov. Greg Abbott remained in force in 60 counties as well as an emergency declaration with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration temporarily suspending hours-of-service regulations for motor carrier drivers providing direct relief.

The FMCSA emergency declaration applies to drivers from “all states on their route to the emergency, even though those states may not be involved in the emergency or stated in the declaration of emergency” if the drivers are providing vital supplies and transportation services to a disaster area in Texas.

John Esparza


Home to more than 85% of the state’s cattle and a leading U.S. rail destination for corn, the Panhandle is expected to have a significant number of cattle fatalities from the fires, a U.S. Department of Agriculture grain report noted March 7.

BNSF Railway reported significant fire-related disruptions affecting the Panhandle subdivision (from Amarillo, Texas, to Wellington, Kan.) after fired knocked its double-track bridge spanning the Canadian River, which is north of Canadian, Texas, out of commission for three days until normal service resumed March 2, USDA stated.

TXTA has been working with government officials in the Panhandle area to help bring specialized military grade tires to Canadian, Texas (named after the river and the site of the worst wildfire) as part of the relief efforts.

Texas rancher rounding up cattle

Ranchers round up cattle after the Panhandle wildfires burned the pastures they once grazed. (Texas Farm Bureau via Facebook)

“These tires are for emergency vehicles, specifically for the Canadian Fire Department, and are not in stock in the area and can be cost-prohibitive. John has been working with Michelin Tires in order to get a shipment of tires to the fire department immediately as part of TXTA’s tire program. This is still an active situation, but the tires have been ordered and are en route to help the Canadian Fire Department better respond to the ongoing fires,” TXTA Communications Director Julie Hagen said.

TXTA has been involved in locating and arranging for at least 48 tires so far to be taken to firefighters for their vehicles.

Meanwhile, trucks from Texas and other states have been transporting vital supplies, not only for people but livestock, too.

“Natural disasters like this bring out the best of Texans helping Texans, neighbors helping neighbors, and Americans helping their fellow Americans,” said Gary Joiner, Texas Farm Bureau communications director. “We’re advised by coordinators of the three livestock supply points that immediate needs for farmers and ranchers impacted by the fires are fencing supplies, livestock feed (hay and feeding cubes) and milk replacer for young calves that are without their momma cow. Scorched pastures will not likely recover for grazing until another 12-18 months.”

The loss of grazing land means food must be transported to the vast rural area for the livestock and horses.

Joiner said monetary donations can be made to the Texas Farm Bureau’s Panhandle Wildfire Relief Fund and “100% of all donations will go to impacted farmers and ranchers to offset unreimbursed losses (fencing, livestock, hay, etc.)” The website is https://texasfarmbureau.org/panhandle-wildfire-relief-fund/.

Material donations can be coordinated through the three livestock supply points in the towns of Canadian, Borger and Pampa (https://texasfarmbureau.org/wildfire-relief-and-recovery-resources/ ).

On March 13, Abbott announced the U.S. Small Business Administration approved his request for disaster declarations in the Panhandle counties of Armstrong, Carson, Donley, Gray, Hansford, Hemphill, Hutchinson, Lipscomb, Moore, Potter, Randall, Roberts, Sherman and Wheeler.



“These disaster declarations will help Texans in communities affected by the Smokehouse Creek and Windy Deuce wildfires receive critical financial assistance they need as they continue to recover and rebuild,” the governor said. “Low-interest loans will be made available by the SBA to qualifying Texans who need assistance to rebuild their homes and businesses from these wildfires. I thank the Texas Division of Emergency Management for their work with our federal partners to ensure impacted communities have the resources and assistance they need to move forward.”

The emergency temporary waivers under effect allow for the efficient disposal of animal carcasses and remove potential obstacles to disaster recovery. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has temporarily suspended several regulations related to commercial vehicle permitting requirements, including interstate vehicle registration, 72-hour and 144-hour temporary registration permitting, and oversize and overweight permitting.

The Texas Department of Public Safety has temporarily waived its rules related to motor carriers conducting response and recovery efforts to wildfires, allowing additional hours without violating federal regulations and enhancing efforts for lifesaving measures to be taken by motor carriers.

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