Bonduelle blaze: All is not lost at Tecumseh facility, CEO says
Published Friday, July 18, 2014 7:54AM EDT Last Updated Friday, July 18, 2014 3:39PM EDT
While the fire continues to burn at the Bonduelle plant in Tecumseh, officials are saying all is not lost.
At a news conference Friday afternoon, Bonduelle CEO Daniel Vielfaure, says the warehouse portion of the facility was decimated by an early morning fire. However, investigators believe key portions of the plant were untouched by the flames.
“It looks like our production facility has been protected, which is good news,” Vielfaure says. “If we did save the production facility, we will do everything in our power to put it back up as quickly as possible.”
Vielfaure estimates that 12 million pounds of frozen vegetable were lost in the fire. Crops that were headed to Tecumseh have been rerouted to other facilities in Ontario.
“We can work with this, and work around it,” he says.
“Where ever we can cut red tape to get them moving in terms of getting there plant up and running,” says Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara. “The province has said they will come with dollars in hand.”
The company says all 200 full time employees will be fully protected by Bonduelle. Work is underway to provide similar security to the estimated 700 seasonal workers.
Tecumseh fire crews report they have gained the upper hand, taking control of the blaze at the Bonduelle plant located in the 1100 block of Lacasse Boulevard. The fire broke out around 2 a.m. Friday morning.
"We entered the building. The visibility was zero. We pulled the crew out for safety reasons. Shortly after that we saw flames, maybe 20 to 30 feet going through the roof at that point," Tecumseh Fire Chief Doug Pitre says.
An evacuation order issued for residents and businesses within a one kilometre radius around the facility has been lifted by the town. It was issued due to air quality concerns Friday morning, after an ammonia tank within the facility started to leak.
A state of emergency has also been lifted.
An exact damage estimate hasn’t been released, but is “considerable”. Once the blaze is extinguished, an investigation into a cause will commence. No injuries are reported.
“We’re going to move forward as a community,” McNamara says.
The Ontario Fire Marchal's Office has been called to assist in the invesitgation. A representitive is expected to arrive on Saturday.
The plant produces nearly 30,000 metric tons of frozen goods and 20,000 metric tons of canned goods annually.