Clay Center meat processing plant total loss after Tuesday night fire

Crews respond to blaze at meat processing plant in Clay Center Tuesday night
Crews respond to blaze at meat processing plant in Clay Center Tuesday night(Clay Center firefighter)
Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 7:37 AM CDT
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CLAY CENTER, Kan. (WIBW) - A meat processing plant in Clay Center is a total loss after it caught fire late Tuesday night.

Fire crews responded to the blaze at Clay Center Locker Plant, near Highway 15, around 11:30 p.m.

Firefighters began battling the blaze inside but had to back out to keep crews safe as it grew.

Crews said 30 minutes later a large explosion blew out the front windows of the building leaving debris scattered across the highway.

They then worked to keep the fire from spreading and damaging neighboring businesses, like Bluestem Electric Cooperative. Fire officials also alerted the owners of Bluestem to move nearby vehicles and equipment away from the building.

Highway 15 was closed for more than three hours overnight as crews worked to clear the debris and put out the fire.

The highway has been partially reopened to allow one lane of traffic in each direction.

Employees of the Clay Center Locker plant came out this afternoon to help the owners with salvage and clean-up efforts.

“I’ve just got a great crew and can’t thank them enough, for everything they do and just really appreciate them, and we’ll come back better and stronger than ever.” Clay Center Locker, Owner, Brad Diekmann says.

Dieckmann says they were able to salvage some of the processed meat, which was in freezers unaffected by the fire, and many of his employees will be transferred to their second location in Junction City until they are able to reopen the Clay Center facility.

Crews remain on scene attempting to put out hotspots.

Clay Center Locker fire being extinguished
Clay Center Locker fire being extinguished(WIBW)

The cause of the fire and the explosion remain under investigation. The building, however, is a complete loss.

The Kansas State Fire Marshal has been called in to investigate.

This is a developing story, we’ll post more details as they become available.

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