DIMMITT, Texas (AP) — An explosion at a dairy farm in the Texas Panhandle that critically injured one person and killed an estimated 18,000 head of cattle is the deadliest barn fire recorded since the Animal Welfare Institute began tracking the fires.
Castro County Sheriff Salvador Rivera has said the Monday fire and explosion at Southfork Dairy Farm near Dimmitt was likely caused by overheated equipment and would be investigated by state fire marshals.
“This would be the most deadly fire involving cattle in the past decade, since we started tracking that in 2013,” institute spokesperson Marjorie Fishman said Thursday.
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 “several instances in which 100,000 to 400,000 chickens were killed in a single fire.”
A phone call to South Fork Dairy rang unanswered on Thursday.
A spokesperson for the state insurance department, which oversees the fire marshals’ office, said only that the fire is under investigation and referred questions to Rivera, who did not immediately return phone calls for comment Thursday.
Insurance department spokesperson Gardner Selby declined comment on the injured person's condition.
Dimmitt is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Amarillo and 50 miles east of the New Mexico border.