Dairy farm explosion kills at least 18,000 cattle, critically injures worker
Initial reports revealed that at least 18,000 cattle were killed and one worker was injured in a dairy farm explosion that occurred in Texas on Monday evening, according to KFDA-TV.
The explosion at the South Fork Dairy in Dimmitt, Texas, caused flames to engulf a building on the farm where cattle are hauled before being transferred into a holding pen for milking, Castro County Sheriff Sal Rivera explained.
Rivera noted that only a small percentage of the farm’s cows survived the incident. The surviving cattle were moved to another facility owned by South Fork Dairy.
“There’s some that survived, there’s some that are probably injured to the point where they’ll have to be destroyed,” Rivera said.
Authorities received multiple calls Monday night around 7:30 p.m. about the explosion and were informed that some workers might be trapped inside the burning building.
When fire officials arrived at the scene, they found and rescued one female worker, who was then airlifted to the hospital for treatment. She remains in critical condition. All other employees were accounted for, and no other injuries were reported.
On Tuesday, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Amarillo Region arrived to begin assessing the damage and assisting the farm’s owner with carcass disposal and debris issues.
Rivera stated that the fire caused significant damage.
“Part of the investigation is still to see what caused it to get so big, and possibly the insulation in the building must have caught fire. But that’s still to be determined,” he said.
It is unclear at this time what caused the fire; however, Rivera speculated that an overheating vacuum machine might have sparked it.
The extent of the explosion’s damage and cause are still under investigation.
Animal Welfare Institute reported that the incident was the deadliest barn fire for cattle overall. It was also the most significant fire in Texas since the institute began tracking barn fires in 2013.
Animal Welfare Institute Public Relations Manager Margie Fishman told KFDA, “We hope the industry will remain focused on this issue and strongly encourage farms to adopt commonsense fire safety measures. It is hard to imagine anything worse than being burned alive.”
Since 2013, nearly 6.5 million farm animals have been killed in barn fires, including more than 6 million chickens, 192,000 turkeys, and 7,385 cows, according to AWI reporting. States with the most barn fires include Michigan, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania.
AWI reported that up to 40% of barn fires are either suspected or confirmed to have been caused by electric heating devices.
VIDEO: Sydnee Batzlaff, New News at 10, South Fork Dairy explosionyoutu.be
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