One of the deadliest barn fires ever recorded since the US Animal Welfare Institute started keeping track of them resulted from an explosion at a dairy farm in the Texas Panhandle, killing an estimated 18,000 cows and injuring one person.

The fire and explosion at Southfork Dairy Farm in Dimmitt, according to Castro County Sheriff Salvador Rivera, were probably caused by overheated equipment and were under investigation by state fire marshals.

According to data that the Animal Welfare Institute began tracking in 2013, this would be the deadliest fire involving cattle in the last ten years.

The organization also keeps track of barn fires that claim the lives of other animals, such as chickens, pigs, goats, and sheep.

The incident was under investigation, a spokesman for the state insurance department, which regulates the fire marshals’ agency, only said, and she referred inquiries to Sheriff Rivera, who did not immediately return phone calls for comment.

Gardner Selby, a spokesman for the insurance department, declined to comment on the injury victim’s state of health.

Amarillo is 80 kilometres to the southwest of Dimmitt, while Dallas is 547 kilometres to the northwest of Dimmitt.