Residents near a food-processing plant in the town of Tecumseh, Ont. were asked to evacuate homes and businesses after heavy smoke and flames broke out at the facility early Friday morning.
The evacuation order for about 1,300 residents of the town and a local state of emergency were lifted by early afternoon. The fire, which caused significant damage but did not cause any injuries or fatalities, was discovered at a Bonduelle plant at 2 a.m., according to officials.
The town, just east of Windsor, has a population of about 24,000. According to Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara, the Bonduelle plant is one of the largest employers in the town and surrounding county.
“It’s a sad day for the community,” Mr. McNamara said. “The biggest need is to make sure the company gets back up and running as much as possible.”
About 200 full-time employees work at the Tecumseh plant, along with 200 seasonal employees, according to Daniel Vielfaure, CEO of Bonduelle Americas. Planned hiring would have brought the total number of employees at the plant to a peak of 700 in August, he said.
“Our frozen warehouse on site was completely destroyed, so we’ve lost around 12 million pounds of frozen vegetables that were in the warehouse,” he said. “It looks like our canning side of the plant is pretty much intact, and hopefully, the production side is in pretty good shape.”
Mr. Vielfaure said full-time employees of the plant “will be supported” and “will not be financially impacted” by the fire, while the company will determine how it will support seasonal employees. The damage to the facility will need to be assessed in coming days, he said.
Bonduelle operates seven plants across Canada where fruits and vegetables are canned and frozen. The plant in Tecumseh was the company’s largest in Canada and one of three in Ontario.