Fire at Hampton Farms causes $20M-plus in damage

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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A fire broke out in a roaster at the Hampton Farms commercial facility in Franklin on April 13 that a company representative said resulted in an injury to one employee and an estimated $20 million-plus in damage to the facility.

Hampton Farms roasts, packs and markets finished peanut products direct to customers nationwide. It is headquartered in Severn, North Carolina, and has plants located in five different states.

Franklin Fire and Rescue reported in a news release that 12 different agencies responded to extinguish the fire at the Franklin plant.

The release noted that at 12:11 p.m. on Saturday, April 13, Franklin Fire and Rescue received a 911 call for a fire alarm at the commercial facility located at 32126 General Thomas Highway in Franklin. According to Franklin Fire and Rescue, the facility had a fire in the roaster (oven). 

The roaster was shut down and the employees of the business were evacuated, the release stated. 

“The building was extremely smoky, which complicated the extinguishment of the fire,” officials said in the release. “The fire was determined to be contained in the roaster and the exhaust system. Extra personnel and outside fire departments were called to help extinguish the fire and prevent the spread of the fire outside of the roaster. Damage to the facility is being checked by the plant personnel.”

R.P. Watson, a representative of Hampton Farms and its parent company Severn Peanut Company, shared the information he had on the fire on Wednesday, April 17, and indicated that he had no update on that information as of Monday, April 22.

He noted April 17 that the fire was a “very unfortunate event resulting in the loss of property and inventory. We had one injury to an employee that has now been released from the hospital and is doing well. 

“We have had great support from emergency response teams and the local community,” he continued. “I will be on-site to assess the situation later today. We are anticipating the release of the property by officials as soon as this afternoon as they conclude safety evaluations.”

He stated that the specific cause of the fire was not currently known.

“We do know the high winds made it an unmanageable event for the local emergency response crews, resulting in higher damage to property,” he said, citing 50 to 70 mph winds.

He estimated the damage to the facility as being $20 million-plus.

Tim Dunn, Franklin Fire and Rescue’s public information officer, stated that fire personnel remained on the scene April 13 until 7 p.m., monitoring the situation and assisting the facility personnel.

Watson said it was too early to share any details on a recovery plan, noting that he had yet to be able to fully evaluate machinery, equipment, and buildings.

However, he did not expect service to customers to be impacted by the fire.

“We foresee little or no disturbance to customers as a result of the fire,” he said. “We have other plants in the U.S. that will be able to sustain the level of service our customers require.”

Franklin Fire and Rescue’s release thanked neighboring departments and facility personnel for helping to extinguish the fire.

Assisting departments listed in the release included Franklin Fire and Rescue, Boykins Volunteer Fire and Rescue, Carrsville Volunteer Fire Department, Courtland Volunteer Fire Department, Courtland Volunteer Rescue, Hunterdale Volunteer Fire Department, Isle of Wight County Emergency Services, Newsoms Volunteer Fire Department, Sedley Volunteer Fire Department, Ivor Volunteer Fire Department, Suffolk Fire and Rescue and Windsor Volunteer Fire Department.