West Liberty Foods Reopens Just Hours After Large Fire
Oct 2, 2020, 6:11 PM | Updated: 8:24 pm
TREMONTON, Utah – When a large fire began around 6 a.m. Friday at West Liberty Foods in Tremonton, Ted Richards was worried the facility would have to shut down.
Richards is the complex manager at West Liberty Foods, which is a meat-packing plant that supplies meat to places like Subway and Costco and is one of the larger employers in Box Elder County.
“There’s 686 employees here,” said Richards. “We depend on them, they depend on us.”
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Fire investigators said the fire started in a building where the thermal fluid heaters, or boilers, are located.
It’s believed a mechanical issue caused the fire.
Three workers were transported to the hospital with minor injuries, and evacuations in a nearby neighborhood were lifted later in the morning.
“I’ve talked to all three of them,” said Richards. “They are home and recovering, which is great to hear.”
After the fire was put out and assessments were done, it appears damage to the processing plant was minimal.
Half of the facility was able to reopen a few hours later, and Richards anticipated the full facility would be operational soon.
“No loss of jobs, which is outstanding,” he said.
The complex was specifically designed to keep those boilers in a separate building, away from the processing plant, in case what happened Friday happened.
“It was in a cinder block building outside of the main facility,” said Richards.
After worker safety, the loss of jobs is what Tremonton Mayor Roger Fridal was worried about.
He knows how important the plant is for the area.
“That makes a big difference in a small town. That makes a huge difference,” said Fridal.
Several fire departments responded from Brigham City, Fielding and Garland. The fire was put out before more damage could be done.
“It was a prime example of what cities need to be doing,” said Fridal. “They need to be working together helping each other.”
Not only were the building and jobs saved, but Richards said workers won’t even lose any hours.
“I feel we’ve been watched over and we’ve been blessed,” said Richards.
Not bad for how things looked Friday morning.