Huge Texas dairy farm explosion kills 18,000 cows

The fire and explosion is thought to have been caused by overheated equipment. Credit: Castro County Sheriff's Office

An explosion at a Texas dairy farm has killed an estimated 18,000 cows and left one person critically injured, according to local officials.

The explosion at Southfork Dairy Farm near Dimmitt, on Monday, is the deadliest barn fire recorded since the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) began tracking such incidents.

Castro County Sheriff Salvador Rivera said the fire and explosion was likely caused by overheated equipment and would be investigated by state fire marshals.

"This would be the most deadly fire involving cattle in the past decade, since we started tracking that in 2013," institute spokesperson Marjorie Fishman said.

The institute also tracks barn fires which kill other livestock, including poultry, pigs, goats and sheep.

"The deadliest barn fire overall since we began tracking in 2013... was a fire... at Hi-Grade Egg Producers North, Manchester, Indiana, which killed one million chickens," according to Ms Fishman.

2022 report by the institute noted "several instances in which 100,000 to 400,000 chickens were killed in a single fire."

A spokesperson for the state insurance department, which oversees the fire marshals' office, told the Associated Press the fire is under investigation.

The Animal Welfare Institute said it was the deadliest fire involving cows in the last decade. Credit: Castro County Sheriff's Office

No comment has yet been provided on the condition of the injured person, who was transported to the UMC Hospital, in Lubbock.

Dimmitt is about 50 miles (80 kilometres) southwest of Amarillo and 50 miles east of the New Mexico border.

The AWI in the wake of the explosion has called for federal laws to prevent barn fires, which kill hundreds of thousands of farm animals each year.

Nearly three million farm animals died in fires across the US between 2018 and 2021.

In a statement, the AWI questioned why only a small number of states have adopted fire protection codes for farm buildings.

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