GRAND ISLAND, NEB. – JBS USA’s beef processing plant in Grand Island, Neb., appears to be ready to open again following a fire that started on Sept. 12.
JBS spokesperson Nikki Richardson released the following information to MEAT+POULTRY.
"Thankfully, there were no injuries, and we appreciate the Grand Island fire department for their quick response and support," Richardson said. "The fire did not impact our primary production areas.”
Although the Grand Island plant was shut down on Sept. 13, the company expected to resume operations on Sept. 14 pending the ongoing assessment of the situation, according to Richardson.
The Grand Island Fire Department Twitter account reported that the roof of the facility was on fire, resulting in a five-alarm response.
Cory Schmidt, chief of Grand Island Fire Department told Reuters that the fire burned a hole in the roof in the area that handles rendering. Damage caused by that fire was confined to the rendering space.
On Sept. 13, JBS Grand Island Beef’s Facebook page released a response updating its workers on two shifts being canceled.
Officials are still determining the cause of the fire.
According to the Steiner Consulting Group’s Daily Livestock Report, the plant has a capacity of 6,000 cattle per day making it one of the ten largest beef plants in the United States.
“This year processing capacity has already been squeezed by COVID disruptions and labor availability and the industry can ill afford losing a big processing plant like this,” the report said. “Let’s hope the issue is resolved without impact on human life and in short order, hopefully days rather than weeks and months.”
In May 2019, JBS announced that it would expand the Grand Island facility as part of a $95 million investment. Some of the upgrades included new animal handling facilities, an updated, temperature-controlled harvest floor along with configuration changes.
Swift & Co. built the Grand Island plant in 1965. JBS acquired the plant in 2007.