Locals offer help to those affected by wild fires in Kansas

CARROLL COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — Carroll County farmers Dean Gangwer and Jeff Miller are just two of many local people helping others more than a thousand miles away.

They’re helping to deliver bales of hay to farms devastated by recent wildfires in Kansas.

“If it happened to my cows, I don’t know what I would do. I’d probably quit. I’d do something else,” Miller said.

Wildfires tore through Kansas, killing livestock, burning down homes and destroying hundreds of thousands of acres of land. That’s exactly why Gangwer decided to take action.

“The winter growth has been burned off, so they graze all year around out there,” Gangwer said. “When that winter growth burns off, there is absolutely zero for those calves to eat. What calves survived, cows survived, there is zero for those animals to eat.”

Gangwer will be heading out early Friday morning with 35 bales of hay on what will be a nearly 2,000-mile round trip to a farm in Kansas.

“A lot of people say we love to go with you and they can’t,” Gangwer said. “They are throwing us fuel money to get out there. The donations of hay, the text messages continue to roll in. I’ve been offered pickup trucks, more trailers. The offers have been very, very generous of everybody that knows we are going that way.”

Gangwer knows what it’s like to need a helping hand. He had a similar problem happen to him about five years ago when he needed feed for his animals.

“This drive is important just to sustain life out there,” Gangwer said. “It’s not to make those guys profitable or do anything, it’s just a pure rescue to save life out there — until those men can get some hay, grass established or get them moved to an area where they can thrive in a pasture situation.”

Miller was one of many who donated hay and was helping with the loading.

“Those people, not only did they lose their houses, they lost their way of life and they don’t even have feed to feed the ones they have left,” Miller said. “It’s much more than the thousands that are dead now. … It’s going to be down the road for a long time.”

Both Miller and Gangwer can’t imagine what it is like for the farmers out in Kansas, but they know it’s bigger than just one state.

“Keep in mind, those guys feed America,” Gangwer said. “Those are the ranchers that put meat on our tables. If we don’t support those guys today, what will we have tomorrow to feed our country? This is about America, not about Carroll County, Indiana or Kansas. This about America and keeping the food chain going and keeping those guys surviving.”