Nearly 20,000 Dairy Cows Killed, Worker Injured in Explosion, Fire at Texas Farm

One employee critically injured in an explosion and fire at the Southfork Dairy in Dimmitt, Texas, on Monday


One person is in critical condition and nearly 20,000 cows are believed to have been killed in an explosion and fire at a dairy farm in the Texas Panhandle Monday night.

The explosion happened at the Southfork Dairy Farm in Dimmitt at about 7:30 p.m. According to KCBD-TV in Lubbock, a worker was trapped inside the milking facility and was hospitalized in critical condition after being rescued by first responders.

No other injuries to employees were reported.

NBC affiliate KCBD-TV reported the fire from the explosion is believed to have spread through the dairy building and into the dairy cow holding pens. While the exact number of cows killed in the fire has not been confirmed, KCBD said preliminary counts indicate 18,000 of the 19,000 cows present at the farm were killed by fire and smoke.

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

Castro County Sheriff's Office
An explosion and fire at a dairy farm in Dimmitt, Texas critically injured one person and is believed to have killed thousands of cows.

The institute also tracks barn fires that 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 1 million chickens," according to Fishman.

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

The cause of the fire at the dairy farm has not yet been confirmed, though Castro County Sheriff Sal Rivera told KCBD on Tuesday that early speculation is that methane may have been ignited by overheating electrical equipment used to suck out waste from the holding pens.

The state fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

Dimmitt is in Castro County and is roughly halfway between Lubbock and Amarillo, west of Tulia.

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