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Sisseton Plant Recovering After Fire

November 5, 2010, 6:15 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Sisseton Plant Recovering After Fire
SISSETON, SD - Work is on hold for now at a Sisseton poultry processing plant that caught fire Friday morning. But the damage could have been much worse.

A police officer noticed flames at Schiltz Foods about 4:00 Friday morning. Firefighters contained it quickly. But now it's a race to get back up and running as soon as possible.

From electrical work to replacing a charred roof, crews got to work right away to fix the damaged Schiltz Foods.

"Bad deal but at least they were able to contain it to the one room. So if it had spread through the rest of the plant, started getting into the roof, then it would have been bad," co-owner Richard Schiltz said.

Schiltz says the fire started in the boiler room, which is an important area for the processing plant, probably in an electrical box.

It ruined much of what was in there but also melted a plastic water pipe, which sent water spraying into the room, helping contain the flames. That, and the fire department is only a half-block away.

"The fire department here did a good job. They contained it to one room," Schiltz said.

But smoke filled other rooms. About 30 of Schiltz's 140 employees were on-site Friday, some of them cleaning up the mess that smoke left behind. Schiltz hopes to have the entire plant up and running next week.

"I'm hoping we can go Monday but that would be the best case scenario," Schiltz said.

Even if the fire-damaged room isn't up and running yet, the company's insurance policy will cover a temporary system to keep the plant going until the permanent one is fixed.

Either way, the company's owners are counting on a quick recovery from this setback.

"Please buy a goose and a capon over the holiday season. It would help us," Schiltz said.

Schiltz Foods is the only goose processing facility with an FDA stamp on it in the United States.

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