GRAPHIC: Cause of explosion that killed more than 17,000 cattle released

VIDEO: Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office rules Dimmitt dairy farm explosion as accidental
Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 3:58 PM MST|Updated: Apr. 17, 2023 at 3:30 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Investigators released the cause of the explosion and fire that killed at least 17,000 cattle in Texas last week.

KFDA, 13 News’ sister station in Amarillo, was the first to report on the disaster at South Fork Dairy in Dimmitt.

Investigators from the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office discovered the fire was caused by an equipment failure and there was no evidence of foul play.

“This was a tragic accident that unfortunately critically injured one person and caused the death of over 17,000 cattle,” the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office said in a press release.

Two other pieces of equipment, identical to the one that caused the fire, have burned previously at the Dimmitt dairy and another dairy.

The explosion was the result of the flammable liquids from the equipment expanding rapidly.

Last week, Castro County Sheriff Sal Rivera said the fire spread to the building where they haul cattle before bringing them into the milking area and into a holding pen.

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

The Animal Welfare Institute has said this is the deadliest barn fire for cattle overall and the most devastating barn fire in Texas since the group began tracking barn fires in 2013.

“We hope the industry will remain focused on this issue and strongly encourage farms to adopt commonsense fire safety measures,” said Margie Fishman, Public Relations Manager with AWF. “It is hard to imagine anything worse than being burned alive.”

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has been assisting the owner with carcass disposal/debris issues, which could take weeks.

A female employee was injured in the explosion and was in critical condition as of last week, according to KFDA.

The loss for South Fork Dairy could be in the tens of millions of dollars, not counting the damaged facility.