JBS fire under investigation; production expected to resume Tuesday

Firefighters called out to a fire in the roof of the rendering area of the JBS plant in Grand Island.
Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 12:30 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2021 at 2:51 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - The State Fire Marshal’s office is investigating the cause of the fire at the JBS beef production plant in Grand Island.

JBS USA Spokesperson Nikki Richardson said the fire did not impact primary production areas.

“We will not run today (Monday), but we expect to resume operations tomorrow (Tuesday), pending ongoing assessment of the situation,” she said.

Firefighters battled the fire for nearly 15 hours. The crews were dispatched at 9:50 p.m. on Sunday to a roof fire on the rendering side of the facility.

When they arrived on scene, firefighters saw heavy fire and smoke. They also said a large portion of the flames were put out with aerial devices and other methods used to isolate the fire. Ultimately, they struggled to put it out even with three engine companies, a ladder truck and the Battalion Chief on-site.

“The fire was involved in the actual roof construction, so it’s in-between layers of metal, rubber and some steel and our crews had a very difficult time accessing the fire,” said Grand Island Fire Chief Cory Schmidt.

Grand Island Police Captain Jim Duering also told Local4 the police’s new drone was used to help locate hot spots at this fire scene.

Schmidt said crews remained on scene until about noon on Monday.

“Fortunately we were very lucky that we didn’t have any injuries and the fire damage was limited to the rendering area at the swift plant.”

Richardson also confirmed none of the JBS employees were injured.

“Thankfully, there were no injuries and we appreciate the Grand Island fire department for their quick response and support,” Richardson said.

Schmidt said the roof currently has a hole in it and the structure was weakened from the fire, making it unsafe.

An employee told our Local4 reporter on scene that there was word of a possible explosion.

“My buddy called me and said he heard an explosion and he heard sirens everywhere, so I turned my police scanner on and they said that JBS was on fire,” said Eric Zimmerman, who has been working at JBS for more than three years.

Schmidt told Local4 News the cause of the fire is still unknown at this time.

JBS Grand Island wrote on Facebook Saturday night saying Shifts A and B would be off Monday.

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