Explosion on Texas farm kills 18 cows

Nearly 18 cows died in an explosion on a dairy farm in Texas. Writes about it with the BBC.

Photo: IStock

An explosion at a South Fork dairy farm near the town of Dimmit left one person critically ill.

Authorities believe equipment at the facility may have ignited methane gas.

Between 2018 and 2021, almost three million farm animals died in the United States as a result of wildfires.

The Castro County Sheriff's Office said they received word of the farm fire at approximately 19:21 p.m. Monday, April 10.

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Photographs released by the sheriff's office show a huge plume of black smoke.

When police and paramedics arrived on the scene, they found one person trapped and had to be rescued. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

While the exact number of cows killed by the fire and smoke remains unknown, the sheriff's office said "approximately 18 cattle" were lost.

Sheriff Sal Rivera said most of the cattle were lost after the flames spread to an area where the cows were kept before milking, from where they were then sent to the corral.

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“Some survived,” he said. “But there are those who are wounded to such an extent that they will have to be killed.”

Rivera said investigators believe the fire may have been started by a machine called a "honey badger," which he described as "a vacuum cleaner that sucks out manure and water."

“Perhaps it overheated, which probably caused the methane to ignite and explode,” the sheriff suggested.

The Washington-based Animal Welfare Institute said that if the 18 cow deaths are confirmed, the fire would "to date" be the deadliest barn involving cattle since it began keeping statistics in 000.

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“We hope the industry will remain focused on this issue and strongly encourage farms to take reasonable fire safety measures,” said Ellie Grainger, AWI Farm Animal Program Policy Adviser. “It’s hard to imagine anything worse than being burned alive.”

Since 2013, barn fires have killed almost 7 million livestock, including about 6 million chickens and about 7300 cows, according to AWI.

Between 2018 and 2021, almost 3 million farm animals died as a result of fires, with 1,76 million chickens in the six largest fires during this period.

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