Dairy farm explosion in Texas kills 18,000 cattle, hospitalizes worker

A machine malfunction Monday evening at a dairy farm near Dimmitt, Texas, sparked a blast that left 18,000 cows dead and one worker critically injured.

At around 7:21 p.m., the Castro County Sheriff’s Office received 911 calls reporting the explosion and fire at South Fork Dairy Farm.

While initial reports said multiple workers were trapped inside the milking building, only one woman was. She was airlifted 80 miles to Lubbock for her injuries.

South Fork, which has been open less than a year, had just 1,000 cows survive after fire spread to holding pens, according to KCBD, a Lubbock NBC affiliate.

While investigation into what caused the conflagration is ongoing, one theory is that an overheated machine was the culprit.

“It was probably what they call a honey badger, like a vacuum that sucks manure and water out. It’s possible that it got overheated, and then the methane might have ignited and then spread out with an explosion and a fire,” Castro County Sheriff Sal Rivera said.

“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,” Margie Fishman, spokeswoman for the Animal Welfare Institute, told KFDA-TV, an Amarillo CBS affiliate.

The surviving cows were moved to a sister facility to the north of South Fork Dairy Farm.

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