A large explosion was reported at South Fork Dairy farm in Dimmitt, Texas on Monday night, adding to a long list of mysterious farm fires.
While the cause is still unknown, reports said the explosion engulfed multiple structures around the farm.
Witnesses said smoke from the explosion could be seen as far as 80 miles away.
According to NBCDFW:
One person is in critical condition and thousands of 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.
KCBD reported the fire from the explosion is believed to have spread through the dairy building and into the dairy cow holding pens. While the number of cows killed in the fire has not been confirmed, preliminary reports online indicate thousands of dairy cows may have been killed by fire and smoke.
The cause of the fire has not yet been confirmed, though Castro County Sheriff Sal Rivera told KCBD that early speculation is that methane may have been ignited.
“There’s some that survived, there’s some that are probably injured to the point where they’ll have to be destroyed,” according to Castro County Sheriff Sal Rivera.
“We strongly encourage farms to adopt common-sense fire safety measures. It is hard to imagine anything worse than being burned alive,” said Margie Fishman of the Animal Welfare Institute.
Officials with the Castro County Sheriff’s Office said that one person was trapped inside the facility and fire crews were able to locate the person and remove them from the building. One person was airlifted to a Lubbock hospital, said Rivera, and was last reported to be in critical condition. Further, an unknown amount of cattle were killed in the fire.
While its cause is still under investigation through the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office and others, including the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Rivera noted that the initial explosion may have been caused by a machinery malfunction.
The South Fork Dairy was further noted to be a recent development in the community, having been in operation for less than a year in the area and employing around 60 people. This is the first instance of a fire or explosion at the business.
It is unclear how a steel structure like the dairy’s could catch fire so quickly.
The Poultry Site reported that more than 518,000 farm animals perished in barn fires in 2022, according to an Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) analysis.
As we reported last year, dozens of food processing plants were destroyed by ‘accidental fires,’ with the first major one being reported in 2023 as a commercial egg farm in Bozrah, Connecticut.
The fires comes amid a string of suspicious fires at food plants which became almost an epidemic in 2022. According to Bloomberg data, “food plant fire” reports jumped the most in a decade last year.