As reported last week, the provincial town of Murray Bridge suffered a major fire at one of its largest employers when a fire destroyed a large part of the factory.
The investigation has determined that the fire was started during hot works on the site but the owners are not holding anyone to blame. Thomas Foods International (TFI) chief executive Darren Thomas said “no-one was blaming the worker for what happened. It was an accident, it’s a family business and I have made plenty of mistakes myself,”
The South Australia Metropolitan Fire Service said the worker had been carrying out hot works on an offal bin. “The worker tried to put the fire out but unfortunately it got into a highly combustible wall and spread quite rapidly,” assistant chief fire officer Phil Kilsby said.
The construction of abattoirs cool rooms with insulated panels can result in rapid spread of fire. It should be noted that Thomas Foods International (TFI) evacuation plan worked very well ensuring no one was injured.
TFI said some of its Murray Bridge workforce will be sent to its Adelaide Hills operation at Lobethal.
Local MP Adrian Pederick said the abattoir processed 1,000 head of cattle daily and 11,000 sheep per day, so the fire’s impact would be “short to medium-term pain” for the meat-processing industry.
The incident serves as a prime example of the need for key industries in rural towns to take on extra precautions as the impact of a fire if felt by the entire community. In this case, TFI should be back in operation in the short to medium term.
Image shows the extent of the fire damage to one part of the building. Photograph from South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service.