Texas dairy farm explosion 'by far deadliest barn fire for cattle' after at least 18K killed, nonprofit says
The explosion that killed at least 18,000 cattle at a dairy farm in Dimmitt, Texas, earlier this week is the deadliest barn fire involving cattle ever, according to a nonprofit organization.
The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) told Fox News Digital in a statement via email that the incident at Southfork Dairy Farm on Monday night is "by far the deadliest barn fire for cattle overall and the most devastating barn fire in Texas since we began tracking barn fires in 2013."
"We hope the industry will remain focused on this issue and strongly encourage farms to adopt commonsense fire safety measures," said Allie Granger, policy associate for AWI's farm animal program. "It is hard to imagine anything worse than being burned alive."
Nearly 6.5 million farm animals have died in barn fires since 2013, according to an AWI report. The report said that in 2021 alone, 681,825 farm animals were killed in barn fires.
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Farm animals are often packed into barns, limiting the opportunity to escape during an emergency and contributing to the high number of animal fatalities during barn fires, the nonprofit’s report said.
The Castro County Sheriff’s Office previously confirmed with Fox Digital that the cows were in a holding area before being brought in for milking when the blast occurred.
Castro County Sheriff Sal Rivera told KFDA that while some cows did survive, others "are probably injured to the point where they’ll have to be destroyed."
While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, Rivera told the station it is likely that a vacuum that sucks in manure and blows out water may have gotten overheated and caused methane and other properties to ignite.
The AWI analysis said that of the 539 total barn fires between 2018 and 2021, the cause or likely cause was reported in just 179 cases — or about 33%. In many of the remaining cases, the destruction was too severe to determine a cause, and, in some cases, the cause remains under investigation.
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In those 179 cases, the report stated that nearly two-thirds of the barn fires involved electrical heating devices or other electrical malfunctions.
Some of the deadliest barn fires recorded occurred at a facility in Bloomfield, Nebraska, in which 400,000 chickens were killed in 2020, and another in Waseca County, Minnesota, where 12,000 pigs died in 2021, according to the report.
The blast at the Southfork Dairy Farm also critically injured one employee. She was being treated at a hospital and no update on her condition was immediately available.