HOLCOMB, Kan. — During a Aug. 14 meeting in Garden City, Tyson Foods executives met with local leaders regarding the major fire at the Holcomb, Kansas beef facility last week.
According to a report by The Garden City Telegram, Steve Stouffer, group president of Tyson Fresh Meats, said the fire was thought to have started during maintenance procedures in the plant’s box shop, which involved welding. TV station KWCH reported that a spark from the welding likely caused the fire.
However, Tyson said on Aug. 15 that the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Stouffer said at the meeting that the damage from the fire was in a small but critical area of the plant. He also said the bulk of the facility was in good shape.
Tyson confirmed to MEAT+POULTRY that there was a 40 by 70-foot hole in the roof near the origin of the fire, the result of collapsed concrete T-beams. Conduit and piping systems in that area of the plant were also damaged and equipment on the harvest floor are damaged as well. Other major damage at the facility was in the electrical and hydraulic systems.
Although operations have stopped at the plant and officials are still assessing the damage, Tyson announced on Aug. 12 that it will rebuild the plant in the same location.
Stouffer also said in the meeting that production will move to five other beef processing plants in Amarillo, Texas; Lexington, Nebraska; Dakota City, Nebraska; Denison, Iowa; Joslin, Illinois and Pasco, Washington until the Kansas plant is up and running again.
Tyson stated that some of the plant’s 3,800 employees might be called to work during this time to help with the clean-up and other projects. Regardless of their assistance, Stouffer said that all full-time active employees are guaranteed pay until the plant is operational.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly and other state officials also attended the meeting and reiterated the state’s support for the local Finney County community and Tyson Foods as they rebuild the facility.