Bonduelle Tecumseh plant to be running this week after fire
No evidence of crime in Bonduelle blaze, says Tecumseh fire chief
The Bonduelle food processing plant in Tecumseh, Ont., may be up and running again by Wednesday.
A fire that broke out at 2 a.m. ET last Friday destroyed the warehouse where items are stored but production areas were left intact.
Bonduelle Americas CEO Daniel Vielfaure expects half of the permanent staff to come back to work this week.
Company officials have estimated damages to be somewhere between $40 million and $50 million.
Tecumseh Fire Chief Doug Pitre said the canning section and the dry warehouse were turned over to the company Saturday.
Vielfaure says his plant manager went inside the plant to assess the damage.
"Our plant manager says he's optimistic that he can maybe run production on the canning side by the end of the week," he said. "We've called our sanitation crews in. So, we already have some employees that are back to work and are cleaning some important sections for us to be ready to probably start canning Wednesday or Thursday, at the latest."
Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara said he has spoken with Premier Kathleen Wynne about providing Bonduelle funds to rebuild. He said Wynne assured him the province would help.
According to McNamara, the premier said the province needs "to make sure that whatever aid that Bonduelle and the community needs, we're there for you."
Arson ruled out
Officials from the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office arrived in Tecumseh Saturday to investigate the cause of the blaze at Bonduelle’s fruit and vegetable processing facility that resulted in an ammonia leak and state of emergency.
Bonduelle’s facility in Tecumseh, east of Windsor, caught fire at 2 a.m. ET Friday.
Pitre believes arson can be ruled out.
"There's nothing that leads us to believe there was any crime committed here whatsoever,” he said.
Vielfaure said 200 current employees and another 450 seasonal employees will be affected. He also said $21 million worth of crops in fields still need picking.
Nearly 5.5 million kilograms of frozen vegetables and unpacked goods were destroyed in the fire.
If the crops can’t be processed, Bonduelle will still pay for the farmers’ crops.
The company has seven plants in Canada, including three in Ontario.
The fire also caused a small ammonia leak at the plant, which led to the mayor calling a local state of emergency including an evacuation of about 1,300 homes within a one-kilometre radius of the plant.
The evacuation order and local state of emergency were lifted at 1 p.m. ET Friday.