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Published September 17, 2009, 07:03 AM

Cavendish may reopen soon

Cavendish Farms may soon start production again after an Aug. 31 fire damaged parts of the potato processing plant, said Dan Akey, director of operations at Cavendish Farms. “The restoration has been going very well and we believe we’ll be back running by next week,” Akey said.

By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun

Cavendish Farms may soon start production again after an Aug. 31 fire damaged parts of the potato processing plant, said Dan Akey, director of operations at Cavendish Farms.

“The restoration has been going very well and we believe we’ll be back running by next week,” Akey said.

The restoration process includes cleaning up smoke-damaged areas, renovating areas of the plant that sustained fire damage and re-plumbing and rewiring parts of the plant, he said.

A part of the wall on the south side of the plant was replaced and repainted on Tuesday, Akey said. The Jamestown Fire Department had opened the wall to create a draft of air to clean out toxic smoke during the fire.

“That’s an indication of how things are going,” said Greg Allen, administrative manager at Cavendish Farms.

All employees working at the plant were offered an opportunity to work in the renovation process at their plant wage, Akey said. The majority chose to come in and work but Akey said the number varies day to day.

“As many people who wanted to work could work,” Allen said.

Cavendish Farms employs 216 people.

Cleanup and refurbishing operations at the plant have been going on since the fire.

“We’ve been working 24 hours a day, seven days a week since the fire,” he said.

The fire shut down production at the plant and the entire plant needs to be refurbished and cleaned before work can start again, Akey said.

Jim Reuther, chief of the Jamestown Fire Department, said the fire is still under investigation.

He said it appears to have started in the area where the fryers are located.

“The most important thing right now is that they need to get it up and working,” Reuther said. “They need to get back to their daily routine.”

Akey had no estimate for the amount of damage.

Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached

at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at brodgers@jamestownsun.com

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