“While the official investigation is still in progress, preliminary findings indicate that the cause of the Wallace Plant fire was accidental,” the company said in a statement. “Fire investigators confirmed today that the fire started in a second-floor office. Investigators were able to determine that no one was in or around that area for quite some time prior to the onset of the fire. As a result, the investigators have determined that there is no evidence that the cause of the fire was intentional.”
An official written report will not be available until mid-March, the company noted. The investigative team consisted of investigators from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI), the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Duplin County Sheriff’s Office and the Duplin County Fire Marshal’s Office.
The Feb. 25 fire at the House of Raeford’s Wallace poultry plant injured a first responder and caused extensive damage to the facility, which the company expects will remain closed for months. The company said there was no production at the plant when the fire was reported.
The first round of employees displaced by the fire began work Feb. 28 at the company’s Rose Hill, North Carolina facility. Managers from the Wallace plant — with the exception of some refrigeration and maintenance managers assisting with clean-up at the Wallace plant—have moved to Rose Hill.
Meanwhile, all Wallace supervisors and line lead personnel began reporting to the Rose Hill plant on Feb. 28 and March 1 during the morning. The first group of production employees will begin work in the Rose Hill plant beginning the evening of March 5 and the morning of March 6.
“House of Raeford’s human resources team and managers will continue with reassignment plans, and conducting individual outreach to each employee,” the company said in a statement. “Wallace employee reassignments will continue each week as needed in order to meet the staffing requirements of the Rose Hill plant.”