The fire started in the plant’s dark meat room following a welding operation on the evening of March 22, according to a report by the public safety department. No plant employees were injured, but a firefighter was treated for a shoulder injury. A section of the plant's roof collapsed while the rest of the facility sustained heavy fire and smoke damage. Damages were estimated at more than $30 million.
"The Hillshire Brands Company is committed to working with its employees in this difficult time, and announced that all Storm Lake employees would be paid and continue to receive medical benefits until further notice," the company said in a statement. "In addition, the company plans to use as many employees as possible to help clean up the plant. The company has set up an 800-number for employees to answer questions during this time."