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Ranchers Search For Cattle In Wake Of Northwest Wildfires

Ranchers in north central Washington state are having a difficult time locating many of their cattle in the aftermatch of the wildfires.
Ian C. Bates
/
NPR
Ranchers in north central Washington state are having a difficult time locating many of their cattle in the aftermatch of the wildfires.

Wildfires continue to burn across the state and it's hitting ranchers hard in central Washington.

Craig Vejraska went looking for some of his cattle in a remote mountain meadow. The smoke was a big challenge. You couldn’t see ahead of you, you couldn’t see behind you, you couldn't see on either side. You were in a pocket of smoke that was a brown, buttery color.

Suddenly, some black cattle -- the same color as the scorched earth -- just walked out of the smoke. It was an amazing site.

Vejraska only found a couple dozen of the total 1,800 cattle that he has up there.

“I’d love to go get ‘em," he said. "I’d love to round ‘em up and bring them down to safety, but I don’t have anywhere safe to put ‘em.”

Many ranchers have been cutting holes in fences to let cattle loose during the fires. They won't be able to assess how many of their animals have made it for weeks or months to come.

Copyright 2015 Northwest News Network

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.