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18,000 Cows Die in Texas Dairy Farm Explosion

Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: April 12, 2023
18,000 cows died and a woman was sent to hospital in critical condition following an explosion at Dimmit Texas South Fork Dairy
An explosion at Dimmit, Texas-based South Fork Dairy killed more than 18,000 cows and left one woman in critical condition, according to reports. (Image: Castro County Sheriff's Office Facebook)

A huge loss of animal life has been incurred after an explosion at a dairy farm in Texas killed 18,000 cows. The fire was one of the worst in more than a decade of tracking.

The explosion was reported on April 11 by Dimmit, Texas media outlet News Channel 10 as occurring at South Fork Dairy. Videos released by the outlet at the time based on cell phone recordings showed large columns of smoke coming from the facility.

An updated report by the outlet regretted to inform the public that “only a small percentage of the cows at the facility survived” the explosion, with more than 18,000 cows lost.

Area Sheriff Sal Rivera was paraphrased as explaining that “the fire from the explosion spread to the building where they haul cattle before bringing them into the milking area and into a holding pen.”

News Channel 10 said that based on data collected by the Animal Welfare Institute, the fire was the deadliest seen since it began tracking barn fires in 2013.

Dramatic footage of the fire collected from indie photographers published by ABC7 Amarillo showed thick black smoke billowing out of the air slats in the building with extensive burn damage along the perimeter.

A third report by News Channel 10 stated that a person was also in critical condition following the blast, adding that when police received calls on the blast “that some of the employees were [reportedly] trapped inside the dairy milking building.”

“When the Castro County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the dairy farm, they determined only a woman was trapped in the dairy building,” News Channel 10 added.

In the article, Sheriff Rivera stated that the suspected cause of the explosion was a “honey badger.”

“The speculation was probably what they call a honeybadger, which is a vacuum that sucks the manure and water out and possibly that it got overheated and probably the methane and things like that ignited and spread out and exploded and the fire,” he stated.

Rivera was paraphrased as speculating both that the fire was so enormous because it spread through the insulation of the building and that the entire facility likely suffered smoke damage.

Just two days prior, the Castro County Sheriff’s Office announced on Facebook a 90-day fire ban for the area on the basis that “conditions are extremely dry and drought conditions persist”

In a report on the topic, Hearst Newspapers California-based outlet CRON alluded that the greenhouse gas emissions of cattle was to blame when it stated, “A report from PBS News in 2022 said that cows emit 40% of methane gas globally because of their high-fiber diet. The methane is usually emitted via cow burps.”

Reporting from area media outlet KTSM stated that South Fork Dairy was a “recent development in the community” having been in operation for only a year.

In a fourth article on the explosion by News Channel 10 interviewing area residents, they told the outlet everything happened suddenly, “It was lowkey, crazy to hear about because we were just chilling and then we just heard a boom. Then we look in the distance and there’s just a big cloud.”

The man added, “It is kind of painful because it’s like that’s kind of what we do here, and that’s how we get our money for like the city and all that. So that’s just a major drop for us.”

Another stated, “We look up, we’re inside and we go out and look through the window, and we just see clouds. It was like an explosion.”

“The whole thing was on fire, and it was crazy,” they added.

A third man said he was concerned for both the milk lost and the damage to the local economy, “That’s a lot of the money that we have and then a lot of milk also too. So I think it’s really crazy that that happened.”