Castro County (Agencies): Local authorities have reported that approximately 18,000 cows were killed in an explosion at the South Fork Dairy farm near the town of Dimmitt, Texas earlier this week.
The blast also left one person in critical condition. It is believed that machinery at the facility may have ignited methane gas. The Castro County Sheriff’s Office received a report of the fire on April 10, and police and emergency personnel arrived at the scene to find one person trapped who had to be rescued and flown to the hospital in critical condition.
While the exact number of cows killed by the fire and smoke is unknown, a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office estimated that 18,000 cattle were lost. Most of the cows were lost after the fire spread to an area where they were held before being taken to a milking area and then into a holding pen. Investigations suggest that the fire may have started with a machine called a “honey badger”, which sucks manure and water out.
The Washington DC-based Animal Welfare Institute has said that if confirmed, a death toll of 18,000 cows would be the deadliest barn fire since it began keeping statistics in 2013. The Institute has called for farms to adopt common-sense fire safety measures.
Between 2018 and 2021, nearly three million farm animals have died in fires in the United States, with approximately 1.76 million chickens dying in the six largest fires over that time period.