Devastating Wildfire Claims Nearly 200 Cattle From Colorado Rancher

By Tom Mustin

PHILLIPS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Relentless and blowing smoke and dust fueled a devastating wildfire in Logan County on Tuesday.

“The memories; my heart goes out to them,” volunteer Darlene Widgery said.

wildfire 1 Devastating Wildfire Claims Nearly 200 Cattle From Colorado Rancher

(credit: CBS)

The 30,000-acre blaze burned dangerously close to the town of Haxtun, torching four homes and devouring livestock and farm equipment.

“I’ve never seen anything of this magnitude ever,” said rancher Kyle McConnell.

logan county fire 12vo frame 1760 Devastating Wildfire Claims Nearly 200 Cattle From Colorado Rancher

A wildfire burning near Haxtun (credit: CBS)

McConnell lost approximately 185 cattle in the blaze. After driving his wife and children to safety, he returned to his hometown to help firefighters battle the flames.

“It’s your friends and neighbors and their families and their values,” McConnell said. “You don’t leave anybody behind.”

logan county fire 5vomap frame 778 Devastating Wildfire Claims Nearly 200 Cattle From Colorado Rancher

(credit: CBS)

At the Haxtun fire station, an emotional Widgery helped organize a sea of food and drinks — all donated from nearby communities to help families and firefighters in need.

“This is real life; this isn’t a story. People have lost their homes. Those are things you can’t replace,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”

logan county fire 1 sara atkinson Devastating Wildfire Claims Nearly 200 Cattle From Colorado Rancher

(credit: Sara Atkinson)

By Tuesday afternoon the fire was estimated at 80 percent containment with Mother Nature still calling the shots.

Firefighters have been dealing with visibility and gale-force winds.

With the fire still raging and countless lives changed forever, McConnell says he and his neighbors will find strength to carry on.

“Regroup; find out what’s left and move on,” he said. “It’s just going to take the strength of the community to get over this.”

Wildfire Resources

– Visit CBSDenver.com’s Living With Wildfire section.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

– See images from the most destructive wildfires (Black Forest, Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.

Tom Mustin is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor. He has been with CBS4 since 2002, and is always looking for great story ideas. Connect with Tom on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @TomCBS4.

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