By TODD GLASSCOCK
PALO PINTO COUNTY – Investigations continued into the cause of a March 26 fire that devastated the Kennedy Sausage plant off Interstate 20 at U.S. Highway 281 South.
Palo Pinto County Fire Marshal Buddy Harwell said insurance adjusters were out at the site yesterday to assess the damage and structural engineers will visit Tuesday to determine the building’s structural integrity and look into possible causes of the fire. He said one of two workers present at the plant when the fire started had been interviewed, but no new information had come to light.
The fire was reported around 4:30 a.m. March 26 with 15 fire departments and 50-60 firefighters responding from Palo Pinto, Erath and Jack counties, with the Jacksboro and Tolar fire departments sending ladder trucks. Also responding were officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety and Palo Pinto County Sheriff’s Office.
No injuries were reported, either to two workers present 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.
Owners D.L. Funderburgh and Jason Beyer said they weren’t certain how long the plant will be shut down for repairs.
According to Beyer, the company will try to take care of employees so that they will be available when the plant reopens. He plans to keep orders filled through other operations and distribution channels. The company has a distribution center in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex to fill orders, so there are options to keep the business intact while the plant is rebuilt.
The business relocated in 2011 from Weatherford to a former livestock sale barn property that it renovated, using in part funds provided through a 20-year, interest-free Texas Capital Fund loan of $560,000 secured by Palo Pinto County through the Industrial Foundation’s work to help the company relocate.