A “large fire” Friday night (Aug. 9, 2019) closed the Tyson Foods beef harvest facility near Garden City, Kansas.
A 911 call was received about 8:35 p.m. Friday by the Finney County Communications Center from the operations manager at the Tyson plant in Holcomb, reporting a fire in the building’s west end near the slaughter operations.
About 10 p.m. an alert from the Garden City Fire Department said the roof collapse was "imminent" as "fire has breached the roof of [the] structure.”
Update: A statement from Tyson Foods on Saturday said the "fire 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."
Update: A Tyson spokesman confirmed the company will pay Holcomb plant employees "a weekly guarantee until production resumes. We are here to ensure our team members are taken care of. We understand that this is a difficult time.”
Also on Saturday, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly directed Secretary of Commerce David Toland and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam to travel to Finney County to meet with representatives from Tyson, local government and economic development officials to coordinate state aid if needed.
About 1,200 employees were at the facility Friday night, with 400 working the harvest shift. All employees were evacuated and no injuries were reported. The cause of the fire and the extent of the damage are unknown at this time.
Garden City Police Department Sgt. Lana Urteaga released a statement at 11:30 p.m. that employees were still on the scene, but would be transported to Wiley Elementary School in Holcomb by Garden City USD 457 buses. The American Red Cross arrived at Wiley to assist any employees in need of help.
There was no Saturday morning A-shift production for processing and harvest at the plant, according to Tyson.
Tyson’s beef processing plant at Holcomb employs about 3,300 workers, and harvests between 5,000 and 6,000 head per day.