Campofrío vows to rebuild factory in Burgos, after devastating blaze

The food group’s processed-meat plant, which employed 900, may burn for six more days

The Campofrío factory during the blaze.Photo: atlas | Video: VÍDEO ATLAS

Spanish food group Campofrío said on Monday that it would open a new plant in Burgos within two years, after a fire completely destroyed a major factory in the northern city at the weekend.

Campofrío director general Fernando Valdés, and Ignacio González, who is the director general of the firm’s Spanish subsidiary, told reporters on Monday that it was still too early to talk about what might happen to the plant’s almost 900 employees. But they did admit that their aim was to “recover the production rate of 60,000 tons” in Burgos, something that could not be “done with two people.”

400 residents had to be evacuated from the area as a result of the huge cloud of smoke produced by the fire

The blaze broke out at the firm’s processed-meat plant in the city’s Villafría industrial estate at around 6.40am on Sunday. Nobody was injured, but the factory was “completely destroyed” and 400 residents had to be evacuated from the area as a result of the huge cloud of smoke produced. Firefighters said the flames were for a time “uncontrollable” owing to the presence of flammable material at the site.

Burgos Mayor Javier Lacalle said on Monday morning that the 40,000-square-meter plant could go on burning for another six days. Firefighters are continuing to tackle the blaze from the outside of the building, given that it continues to emit smoke and they are unable to enter. Only when the flames are completely extinguished will police be able to access the site to investigate the cause of the incident, meaning that the inquiry will last for at least another week.

Only when the flames are completely extinguished will police be able to access the site to investigate the cause

The two Campofrío directors said they would be studying the legal situation in which the staff now find themselves with the workers’ committee and labor unions. For now, unable to attend their place of work, employees are in a situation of “paid license,” meaning they will continue to receive their wages.

Looking to the future, Valdés and González said workers might be temporarily transferred to other factories to maintain production levels, and revealed that they had already started relocating administrative staff to its two other centers in Burgos, which employ around 900 people.

Burgos City Hall calculates that, among direct and indirect employees, the fire will affect around 2,000 families.

We went through the whole crisis without any layoffs. And in three hours flames have destroyed the whole complex” Campofrío employee

Staff gathered outside Burgos City Hall after meeting with the worker’s committee on Monday morning and many also visited the burnt factory. One of them, Tomás Aparicio, 59, who has worked at Campofrío for 41 years, admitted that the fire had been a “huge blow, but the important thing is that Campofrío remains in Burgos.”

With tears in his eyes Marcos Gómez, 56 and a Campofrío employee for 42, said: “We have gone through the whole crisis and there has been no layoff plan. And in three hours the flames have destroyed this whole complex.”

Campofrío, which employs 7,000 people across the world and since June has been jointly owned by Mexico’s Sigma and China’s WH, has announced it will be cancelling a planned €500 million share offering. The Burgos plant, which was built in 1997, was one of its main sites in Spain, where it operates nine factories. The firm runs 27 plants throughout the whole of Europe and turned over €1.9 billion in 2013.

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