Tyson to rebuild following devastating fire

FINNEY COUNTY, Kan. (KWCH) Update Monday, Aug. 12, 2019

(Source: Adam Shrimplin)

Tyson Foods says it will rebuild its Holcomb facility, which sustained major damage in a fire late Friday.

The company released a statement Monday morning saying officials are still assessing the damage, so it’s too early to establish a timeline, but work to clear damage has already begun.

“This is a difficult time for our team members and their families, and we want to ensure they’re taken care of,” said Steve Stouffer, group president of Tyson Fresh Meats in a press release. “Today, we will notify our full-time, active team members that they’ll be paid weekly until production resumes.”

Stouffer said the team members may be called on to work during this time to help with clean-up and other projects, but regardless of the hours worked, all full-time active employees are guaranteed pay.

The company commended plant management for quickly evacuating the building. The company also thanked all of the emergency crews that helped put the fire out and keep everyone safe.

Tyson Foods operates six plants in Kansas and employs more than 5,600 people. The company says its total economic impact in the state is more than $2.4 billion.

The news that full-time workers at the plant in Holcomb wont' have to go without a paycheck is good for employees, as well as business owners in Finney County.

Data from the Kansas Department of Commerce shows that Tyson's Holcomb plant is the sixth largest employer in Kansas, only slightly smaller than Koch Industries in Wichita.

Rod Oberheim who manages C Bar H Farm and Home Supply in Garden City says the community depends on Tyson.

"Businesses here cater to Tyson, whether it be in material or just supplies," he says. "Manufacturing, welding, companies, they're a huge contributor and I think Garden City has grown around this."

Oberheim says businesses will still take a hit, but Tyson's actions toward rebuilding and compensating employees will soften the blow.

The Kansas delegation in Congress is among those watching the situation in Holcomb closely. Rep. Roger Marshall whose district includes Finney County, says he'll be in Holcomb Tuesday to tour the plant and get a first-hand look at the extent of damage.

Senators Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts are staying updated with the situation involving Tyson.

Moran says he's optimistic with Tyson's future, especially compared to somewhat of a similar situation when a fire permanently closed a packing plant near Dodge City.

"I hope the damage is such that it's not going to take (many) months or years to rebuild," Moran says.

Roberts issued the following statement Monday:

“Thank you to the first responders for their quick and tireless work, as well as the support from local organizations and businesses to help get folks back on their feet following the devastating fire at the Tyson plant over the weekend. I have spoken with leaders at Tyson Foods regarding plans to rebuild the Holcomb facility, and I commend their commitment to the hardworking employees by ensuring they will receive pay during this time.

“The plan to rebuild is great news for the 3,500 plant employees impacted by the fire, and for all those in the cattle industry in Garden City and Southwest Kansas who will continue to be impacted by the plant closure. I will continue to work with my colleagues, Senator Jerry Moran and Congressman Roger Marshall, to monitor and support the rebuilding process.”

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Saturday late afternoon, Aug. 10, 2019

Garden City officials say a fire at the Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Holcomb is out.

At around 9:30 a.m., firefighters were able to get the fire under control. Crews will remain on scene throughout the afternoon to keep an eye out for any flare-ups.

Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc. says they will be opening their doors Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. for employees to retrieve their items, such as keys and wallets. Tyson staff is asking for, employees only, to come to the plant as to not congest the area. All employees should monitor Tyson’s social media site for further updates.

Anyone interested in donating food or water can contact the Finney County United Way. The non-profit organization will be accepting non-perishable items at their office located at 1509 E. Fulton Terrace. Monetary donations can be made by clicking here.

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1 p.m.

Gov. Laura Kelly sent assistance from her administration in response to a fire overnight that caused significant damage to the Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Holcomb.

Kelly asked Secretary of Commerce David Toland and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam to travel to Finney County today to meet with Tyson representatives and local government and economic development officials to offer and coordinate support from the state as needed.

“Our agencies are prepared to coordinate support for Tyson and its workers as needed during this challenging time,” Kelly said. "The Department of Commerce and Department of Labor have rapid response resources available to assist employees and businesses affected by closings and other setbacks."

Tyson Foods release the following statement:

We’re grateful no one was hurt during the fire at our Holcomb, Kansas, beef plant Friday night. We appreciate the hard work, dedication and quick response from the Holcomb and Garden City fire departments, as well as the Finney County sheriff’s office.

The plant will be down indefinitely while we fully assess the damage. We know our team members have a lot of questions, so we’re asking the news media to help spread the word that we will be having informational meetings with team members at the facility on Monday to discuss the situation.

Tyson Foods Team Members should report on Monday to respective cafeterias at the following times:

A Harvest and A Processing: 6:00 a.m.

B Harvest and B Processing: 3:00 p.m.

A MH, Freezer, and PBX: 10:00 a.m.

B MH, Freezer, and PBX: 7:00 p.m.

A Hides (in Hides break room): 11 a.m.

B Hides (in Hides break room): 1 p.m.

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8:00 a.m.

Officials with Tyson have released the following statement regarding Friday's fire:

"We safely evacuated workers about 8:30 p.m. Friday night from our beef plant near Holcomb due to a fire that started in the box shop. We have had no reports of injuries. The plant will be down indefinitely until we can assess the damage. We will soon be notifying our team members about informational meetings."

Garden City officials say a fire at the Tyson processing plant in Holcomb is still active. Crews remain on the scene, and the fire has been contained to the area where it began.

Officials aren't sure exactly the scope of the damage, but part of the roof has collapsed.

Around 75 employees were bused to Holcomb Elementary School overnight. All of them had dispersed from the school as of around 1:00 Saturday morning. The American Red Cross and Salvation Army were on hand to help out.

Officials also say, while they appreciate the outpouring of support for firefighters and emergency responders at the scene, they'd like people to coordinate donations through Finney County Emergency Management (620-272-3747).

We expect the next update from police to come at 1:00 this afternoon.

Watch for updates here on www.kwch.com.

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Early Saturday morning, Aug. 10, 2019

There will be no “A” shift production for process and harvest today (Saturday) due to this fire.

Here’s the latest from authorities in Garden City regarding the massive fire at the Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc.

Authorities say a 911 call came in at around 8:35 p.m. from someone who said there was a fire on the west side of the building where the process begins.

As of 11:30 p.m., fire officials said it was still an active fire and crews are on the scene working to put the fire out.

Additional units were called in to assist.

Around 1,200 employees were on the scene at the time of the fire. All of them were evacuated and there are no reports of any injuries.

Garden City Police are working with USD 457 to have buses transport those evacuated workers to Wiley Elementary in Holcomb.

The American Red Cross was also called in to help those displaced by the fire.

Crews are asking everyone to stay clear of the area.

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Friday, Aug. 9, 2019

The Garden City Police Department Friday night advised people to stay clear of the area of the Tyson Fresh Meats plant near Holcomb as crews fight an active fire.

A little before 10 p.m. Friday, the Finney County Sheriff's Office reports everyone at the plant is accounted for and "no injuries are being reported."

Our freelance photographer near the scene reports smoke getting heavier and flames visible from the plant's roof. An alert from the Garden City Fire Department says roof collapse is "imminent" as "fire has breached the roof of [the] structure.

As of Friday night, the impact on the plant and its employees is unclear. We expect to get a clearer picture of the extent of damage when the sun comes up Saturday.

Follow updates as we gather further information on Eyewitness News This Morning and on www.kwch.com.