The explosion that rocked the Southfork Dairy Farm in Dimmitt, Texas, may be the single largest loss of cattle in American history. The estimated death toll of 18,000 cattle is different from other recent agricultural disasters largely due to its massive scale.
The Monday explosion left one person injured alongside the animal death toll. The injured worker had been trapped in the facility and needed to be airlifted to a hospital 80 miles away.
The explosion occurred around 7:30 a.m. that day.
The fire and explosion were likely caused by overheated equipment, according to Castro County Sheriff Salvador Rivera. He also said that state fire marshals would investigate the cause of the blast.
The sheriff told local media that the current belief is that the fire was caused by a vacuum that pulls out manure and water. If the element overheated, it may have ignited flammable methane gas.
Unfortunately, Rivera said that some of the surviving animals will likely have to be put down. He added that “we were very fortunate” that the fire’s toll was not worse. He cited the dozens of people that work at the facility.
The blast is the deadliest incident since a 2017 fire killed about 1 million chickens at an Indiana facility.
The Animal Welfare Institute told the Washington Examiner that the scale of the north Texas fire went well beyond similar incidents at dairy farms. While hundreds of cattle have died in previous incidents, the case in Texas is far larger.
Only a small number of the farm’s animals survived the explosion.
— New York Post (@nypost) April 13, 2023
The explosion was not the only significant agricultural or industrial accident in recent memory. A recent fire killed 12 horses at a stable in Kentucky.
The 2017 fire mentioned above took place at a Hi-Grade Egg Producers facility in North Manchester, Indiana, and required the assistance of 22 fire departments to get the fire under control.
The blaze lasted for almost seven hours.
Southfork Dairy Farm had been open for less than a year prior to the explosion.