The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Student Senate honors wildfire victims, Aggie first responders

‘It hits home because we all know someone affected by a disaster in agriculture’
Koldus Building

Texas A&M student senators moved by the Smokehouse Creek wildfires created a resolution to commemorate the work done by Texas A&M volunteers. The Texas Wildfires Resilience Resolution passed unanimously on March 27.

Two off-campus senators, ecology and conservation biology junior Cody Sexton and animal science sophomore Landry Langley, authored the piece. Both decided to focus their legislative efforts on the largest wildfire in Texas history due to their connections to the region as well as their continued work in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The Smokehouse Creek fire covered over one million acres of land and destroyed over 500 structures. The fire burned from Feb. 26 until fully contained on March 16, and was located primarily in the Texas panhandle, mainly affecting Amarillo, Pampa, Dumas, Shamrock and Lipscomb.

According to the resolution, a majority of land burned was farmland and over ten thousand cattle died from the fire. The resolution also honored the two lives confirmed to be lost in the wildfire: Joyce Blankenship from Stinnett and Cindy Owens from Amarillo.

“This is one of the worst [wildfires] anyone could face, especially because a very large percentage of all agricultural products in the state and the country are produced [in the Texas panhandle],” Sexton said.

The Texas A&M Forest Service has over 50 offices around Texas and is one of the first lines of defense once a fire has spread outside normal containment. During the meeting, Langley highlighted that a significant portion of the 600 volunteers deployed to combat the fire were from A&M.

“I do have family that are in the panhandle, and all of them made it out okay, [but] their land and their cattle operations didn’t,” Langley said. “Everything that Texas A&M has done, by giving money and giving a lot of volunteer time to help … has really been so beneficial to the community.”

The resolution states that four Texas A&M system agencies were directly involved in the response effort towards the fire, namely the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Forest Service, Vet School and Engineering Extension. 

Multiple departments, including the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics and the Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology, have held fundraisers for the recovery efforts currently underway in the panhandle.

Both senators hoped the resolution would call attention to the wildfires and praise the rapid response of the A&M System that led to the eventual containment of the fire.

“I know a lot of people in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences know about it, but I think [it raises] awareness for other people, just to see how much your college is doing on issues you might not even be aware about,” Langley said.

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