Naumes, Inc. fruit packing plant in Olivehurst damaged by fire, June 25, 2010.
OLIVEHURST, CA - A large portion of a fruit packing plant in Olivehurst has been reduced to cinders but company officials say the facility will reopen in time for the pear harvest.
"The fire moved very fast and very hot," said Robert Boggess, general counsel for Naumes, Inc., which is based in Medford, Oregon.
Last Friday night, a fire sped through the middle section of the Naumes plant, blackening an employee lunchroom, forklift shop and cold storage for fruit.
Tuesday, several workers were on site, surveying the damage and drawing up plans.
"We start demolition, clean up and recycling some of the material on Thursday," Boggess said. "When I arrived from Oregon, I quickly realized that the key packing warehouse and cold storage were still intact and that there was a way to get back in production when the pear season begins."
That's good news for 200 seasonal employees who work at the plant.
Boggess said the company plans to put temporary working quarters on site to replace areas destroyed in the fire.
"We'll have pears coming out of the packing house on conveyor belts and going into an air-conditioned tent that's 140 feet by 30 feet. That will allow us to put pears on pallets in a cold environment and take them to cold storage at the other end of the operation," he said.
Boggess said plans call for reopening the plant on July 19.
"There's been talk that we're out of business but we're not," he said. "We're trying to spread the work among our employees to let them know the company is doing everything it can to get back into production in time for this season."
Fire officials were still trying to determine what caused the fast moving fire. Apparently a PG&E worker discovered the blaze when he came to restore power to the plant's neighbor around 8 p.m.
Naumes, Inc. has been in Olivehurst since 1978 and with 1,500 employees, is one of the largest employers in the Sutter-Yuba County region.
By Karen Massie, email@example.com