By DAVID MAY and TODD GLASSCOCK
PALO PINTO COUNTY – Dozens of firefighters and equipment from three counties responded to a massive blaze that destroyed most of the Kennedy Sausage plant off Interstate 20 at U.S. Highway 281 South.
Palo Pinto County Fire Marshal Buddy Harwell said there were two men working at the distribution plant when the fire was reported around 4:30 a.m. He said by the time the first units from Santo Volunteer Fire Department arrived, flames were shooting from a west side vent at the top of the structure and a shipping door.
Harwell said 15 fire departments and 50-60 firefighters responded from Palo Pinto, Erath and even Jack counties, with the Jacksboro and Tolar fire departments sending ladder trucks. The Mineral Wells ladder truck is currently out of service Harwell said. Also responding were officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety and Palo Pinto County Sheriff’s Office.
Members of the Palo Pinto County Disaster Relief Team arrived at the scene and served ribs and rotisserie chicken, donated by Walmart and Golden Chick, to the firefighters.
“The problems we initially had was water supply, and some of the first fire departments in this area are geared primarily for wild fires, not large structure fires,” Harwell said.
There were no injuries reported, either to the workers or to fire personnel.
Harwell said the fire began in the rear distribution area where a lot of cardboard and wrapping materials are stored, providing plenty of fuel for the fire to grow and spread. He said employees were able to go into the front office portion of the structure and remove some furnishings and electronics. He noted the company kept no live livestock on the property.
Harwell estimated the building area destroyed or damaged by the fire at about 30,000 square feet. The cause of the fire remained under investigation Wednesday afternoon, and Harwell planned to speak with the two workers who were present when the conflagration began.