‘We’ll learn from it’: Dimmitt dairy farm explosion caused by engine fire in manure truck

In Dimmitt, a fatal blaze swept through a barn on April 10. The county of Castro, where the city is located, is the second most productive in terms of milk production in the state.

According to the February data from the Texas Association of Dairymen, prior to the devastating fire, the county in Texas had a total of 59,361 cows, accounting for approximately 9.5% of the estimated 625,000 dairy cows.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller stated, “This is an isolated incident that has never occurred in this manner before. I highly doubt that it will happen again in the future.”

The recent violent occurrence at South Fork Dairy caused harm to a female and led to the destruction of around 90% of the farm’s animals.

According to a report from the AP, the fire that occurred in a 2 million square foot barn was determined to be caused by an accident involving a fire engine cleaning a part of the barn using a vacuum truck filled with manure, as stated by the State Fire Marshal’s report.

Miller stated that the driver was unable to remove it from the barn. The driver was inside the barn and attempted to extract it using two complete fire extinguishers. However, the temperature increased significantly, and there were additional combustible substances present in the barn, such as hydraulic fluid and fuel. Eventually, it ignited, resulting in the tragic event of losing nearly 18,000 cows and a splendid barn.

Miller stated that approximately 2,000 cows managed to survive as they were located outside of the barn when it caught fire.

Miller stated, “Cows do not retain milk.” They relocated them to a dairy in close proximity, thus it is necessary to continue extracting milk from them. The ones that remained at that location are thriving.

Miller mentioned that the livestock that didn’t survive have been laid to rest.

“Interment is the most hygienic and simplest method to eliminate them. You don’t attempt to transport them to the dump. That wasn’t a possibility, so there’s no rendering facility that can accommodate 18,000 of our cows,” Miller stated. “It was quite an undertaking just to get rid of the deceased carcasses.”

Previously – a dairy facility in Texas, at two separate instances before, and on another occasion at the same dairy – a truck of the identical make and model caught fire and was reported by State officials.

Miller stated,” The investigation is still ongoing to determine the root cause of the truck fires. We need to identify the cause in order to implement preventive maintenance measures and ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future.”

Between 2018 and 2021, the U.S. Witnessed the largest number of cows being killed in a single fire, with a total of 548 cows. Out of these, 7,385 cows accounted for the casualties. Additionally, it is estimated that approximately 6.5 million animals have lost their lives in barn fires since 2013. According to the Animal Welfare Institute, this incident marks the deadliest fire involving cows in almost ten years, highlighting the unprecedented scale of the blaze.

Miller stated that regrettably, it was also the largest number of livestock lost to a fire in the history of the state.

Miller said, “This fire is abnormal.” I’ve never seen anything like it in my lifetime. I will continue to investigate. We will find out what happened to the trucks and what we could have done differently to prevent it. We will also implement measures to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Engineers specializing in equipment failures will conduct investigations, as stated by Miller. Although the investigation has been closed, the State Fire Marshal’s Office said.