The city of Hermiston said one in every 30 jobs within the Hermiston zip code are attributable to the Shearer’s Foods factory, which was badly damaged in an explosion.
Hermiston, OR. Communities in eastern Oregon are wondering what the future holds after one of the region’s largest employers suffered a warehouse explosion this week.
The crews of Umatilla County Fire No. 1 braved more than a day of near-freezing temperatures, battling the fire at the Shearer Food Factory, south of Hermstone.
“I was shaken by it,” said Corey Harris, a warehouse worker who has been with the company for 16 years. “We are like a big family.”
Harris wasn’t at work when the explosion occurred, but he felt the impact and uncertainty.
“Shearer has changed a lot in people’s lives, giving them jobs and opportunities to grow,” Harris explained.
Fire investigators believe a portable natural gas-powered boiler has exploded, setting off a massive fire that destroyed the Shearer Depot.
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The firehouse said at least six people went to hospital on Tuesday, and a statement from Shearer’s company on Wednesday said everyone who received treatment has been released.
“We are grateful that all members of the Shearer team are safe,” Joline Manning, Shearer’s chief human resources officer, wrote. “We appreciate the understanding of our neighbors in Hermston who have been affected by the fire and the outpouring of support that has been provided to the Scherer family.”
“It’s a huge shock,” added Hermstone City Manager Byron Smith.
Smith said the city is working with Shearer, providing space in the city for company leaders to connect with employees while everyone works through the next step.
“They have a team on the ground here to assess the damage to see if any of the plant can be salvaged,” Smith said. “I see this as a way for society to become stronger.”
Smith explained that the food factory employs hundreds of people, which is one in every thirty jobs within the Hurmston zip code.
“I really do cry at the thought of what happened,” Harris said. “It’s so sad to see that happen.” “Now where are we going? Where are we going?”
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