Local News

The Clean Up Begins As The Thomas Food Fire Continues To Burn

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The SA Government along with the Environmental Protection Agency have begun the clean up of the Thomas Foods International site in Murray Bridge as the fire continues to burn in the basement of the facility.

The process of removing carcasses either destroyed or spoiled by the fire started yesterday, the EPA ensuring the transport and disposal of the meat complies with relevant license conditions to ensure the volume of spoiled food doesn’t cause and odor issues.

SA Health are also advising those who live or work near the facility that while the smell coming from the still burning fire can be unpleasant, it isn’t toxic.

Thomas Foods International Fire Coordination Taskforce Chair, Mehdi Doroudi says the company is working hard to ensure staff are informed at all stages while dealing with the massive clean up effort.

“The Taskforce is meeting regularly and we are working closely with Thomas Foods to ensure we provide the help they need now to begin clean up and start the process of repair and rebuild.”

“Access to the site is still limited and TFI is yet to complete a full assessment of the damage. However, it’s now been assessed as safe to remove the carcasses – which were hanging in chiller storage rooms in the abattoir at the time of the fire.”

“I commend Thomas Foods for the way they continue to handle this devastating event. They are working around the clock to keep staff informed, as well as reassure customers and the wider community of their commitment to move forward and rebuild.”

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Member for Hammond Adrian Pederick toured the devastated facility on Tuesday and says the he believes the Murray Bridge community will be able to come back from this set back.

“This incident is a tragedy and my thoughts are with TFI, their employees, individuals, primary producers, feedlotters, and freight operators who all have their livelihoods invested in this business,” said Mr Pederick.

“I toured the facility this morning, being briefed by emergency personnel on the status of the fire. Whilst a major part of the facility is lost, the emergency services crews did an excellent job to stop the fire from spreading to other parts of the plant.”

“Murray Bridge is a resilient community and I know through this resilience, community spirit and determination will be able to weather this rough patch.”

A Community Information Centre at the Murray Bridge Town Hall 13-17 Bridge St is open to provide counselling, advice and staff information. Opening hours: 8.30am - 5.30pm weekdays.

A hotline (1800 302 787) is also still open for Thomas Food International employees and the broader community to contact the Government with any questions or concerns.

An advice message is still current for the facility, with MFS Crews still on scene fighting the flames that have been contained to the basement since late last week. 

Sporadic smoke continues to drift across the area, people with respiratory issues advised to stay indoors and close all doors and windows.

Nicole Ely from the MFS says the fire still burns in an area difficult for crews to access.

"Urban search and rescue crews are using machinery to cut through internal brick walls and concrete to reach a deep seated pocket of fire at ground level. The abattoir fire has remained contained since the night it was first reported."

"The fire is burning in packaging and cardboard and firefighters are creating opening in walls to provide ventilation due to the build up of heat and gases in areas where the fire continues to burn."

Images: Supplied

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