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By Tyne Morgan,

It's been two weeks since a massive fire broke out at a Texas dairy killing more than 17,000 cows. The Texas State Fire Marshal's Office released a report from its investigation, ruling the fire as accidental with no reported evidence of foul play.

The explosion and fire occurred at South Fork Dairy, which is located just southeast of Dimmitt, on the evening of Monday, April 10, 2023. According to a new release from the Texas State Fire Marshal's Office, the investigation found the fire originated in the northern end of the dairy, and was the result of a "failure of a piece of equipment that is used within the dairy on a daily basis."

The release also stated, "Because of the size of the fire, the insured loss amount, the number of cattle killed, and the fact that two other pieces of equipment, identical to the one that caught fire, have burned previously. One at this dairy and one at another dairy. There will be a more in-depth investigation of the reason for the failure by other origin and cause investigators and engineers that are experts in the field of equipment failures."

Officials also said the explosion was the result of flammable liquids, including liquid fuel, hydraulic oil and other materials, "expanding rapidly," causing a "smoke explosion."

The State Fire Marshal's report aligns with what was reported on AgWeb the same week as the fire broke out. The local sheriff speculated a "honey badger" - a machine which he described as a "vacuum that sucks the manure and water out" - may have been the cause. However, as Farm Journal first reported, it seems the sheriff misspoke, as there's no piece of equipment called a "honey badger" in dairy. Instead, it's called a "honey vac."

The sheriff also stated his initial assessment was the insulation catching fire is what caused the fire to spread.

Based on the current information from officials, and aerial video that shows a charred roof evenly across the barn, Farm Journal reached out to several dairy producers that week, as well as insurance experts, to see if the honey vac and insulation would cause such a large fire.

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