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Texas Dairy Farm Explosion Kills 18,000 Cattle: Cause Still Undetermined

An estimated 18,000 milking cows were killed, and one person was left critically injured, after an explosion ripped through a Texas dairy farm on Monday. Authorities have yet to determine the cause of the blast.

The Castro County Sheriff’s Office confirmed with Fox News Digital the cows were in a holding area before being brought in for milking when the fiery blast engulfed the Southfork Dairy Farm in Dimmitt.

The explosion rocked nearby houses and a pall of smoke could be seen 30 miles away.

Very few cows in the holding area survived, officials told local outlet KFDA.

The Animal Welfare Institute estimated the incident is the deadliest barn fire in Texas and deadliest involving cattle since the organization started tracking the fires in 2013, KFDA reported.

A giant plume of intense, dark smoke could be seen from the farm, according to images and video posted on social media in the aftermath of the event.

“Your count probably is close to that. There’s some that survived, there’s some that are probably injured to the point where they’ll have to be destroyed,” Castro County Sherif Sal Rivera told KFDA when asked to confirm the loss of some 18,000 head of cattle.

Farmer’s Weekly reports the blaze spread so rapidly farmworkers were trapped inside the milking parlour by smoke and flames or were beaten back by the heat, preventing them from freeing cattle.

On arrival, firefighters devoted their efforts to rescuing the trapped workers. One woman took longer to free and was taken to hospital in a critical condition.

Castro County police sheriff Sal Rivera confirmed early speculation pointed to a machine overheating and a subsequent explosion. Rivera also said the farm’s 60 employees had all been accounted for, but would not speculate on the precise number of cattle deaths.

“There’s some cattle that survived, there’s some that are probably injured to the point where they’ll have to be destroyed,” he said.

The Texas Fire Marshall has launched an investigation into the cause of the deadly blaze.

This is not the first time a major food producer in the U.S. has suffered catastrophic damage to production capability.

In January this year a massive fire swept through a Connecticut egg farm and likely killed tens of thousands of chickens, as Breitbart News reported.

Local media reports citing the Salvation Army estimated that around 100,000 chickens were killed in that explosion and fire.

Hillandale Farms, where the fire took place, bills itself as one of the country’s top egg producers, raising over 20 million chickens for eggs.

 

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