DAKOTA DUNES, S.D. – After the Aug. 9 fire at the Tyson beef plant in Holcomb, Kansas, local marquees, banners and buttons read, “We Stand with Tyson. Forward together.” On Sept. 20, Steve Stouffer, president of Tyson Fresh Meats, updated the situation and ensured all stakeholders of the company’s efforts to bring the plant back online. Tyson expects normal operations to resume early in 2020.

The fire damaged the electrical and hydraulic system supporting the harvest floor, a critical part of operations. Currently crews are working to replace support beams and the roof. Once that is done, new wiring and equipment will be installed, Stouffer said in the update.

Tyson showed support to the 3,800 team members at the plant affected by the fire and closure by guaranteeing 40 hours a week in pay for active fulltime employees until normal operations resume.

“Some of our team members have been instrumental in helping with clean up, allowing us to quickly assess the damage and begin reconstruction,” Stouffer said. “In late August we were able to resume some limited ground beef and value-added production at the facility.”

Stouffer said Tyson understands the severity of the impact the fire caused to cattle suppliers and continues to work on mitigating it. The company assumed the cost of moving cattle to other facilities for production. Some team members volunteered to temporarily relocate to other facilities to help with the necessary increase in production, as well.

Tyson Fresh Meats holds ongoing calls and meetings to communicate with suppliers, industry and government to provide updates and answer questions.

Stouffer said the company “…will remain forever grateful,” to the surrounding community for its support during the reconstruction of the plant. He also thanked local firefighters, law enforcement and EMT teams on behalf of Tyson Fresh Meats.

“We will continue to update the community and all stakeholders as we move towards getting the facility back to full strength,” he added.