Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Fire destroys peanut plant

The fire that destroyed the Portales Hampton Farms peanut processing plant on Monday was initially reported as “a fire outside of the building that is not large at this time.”

Minutes later, with sustained winds near 40 mph and gusts near 60 mph, Portales firefighters found “fire in several different areas of the commercial structure and outside the building,” according to a Portales Fire Department news release.

It took five hours, 27 fire trucks and 34 firefighters from six agencies before the blaze was under control.

One person was injured. Portales Fire Chief T.J. Cathey said the facility was “considered a total loss.”

The injured person was taken to Roosevelt General Hospital in Portales for treatment, but the chief said he did not know the extent of the injuries or whether the patient was still at RGH on Tuesday morning.

Cathey said the fire began about 3:30 p.m. It was declared under control by 8:30 p.m., but flared up again around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday. Smoke was still visible at the site early Tuesday afternoon.

Workers were at the facility when the fire started.

“All employees were evacuated once the magnitude of the fire was determined,” Cathey said.

Cause of the fire was still undetermined on Tuesday morning.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office has been called in to investigate.

Hampton Farms Portales Plant Manager Wes Weems declined to comment on Tuesday. He referred questions to corporate headquarters in North Carolina, which did not respond.

Personnel and equipment came in from Clovis, Texico, County Line, Arch and Floyd fire departments as well as Portales, officials said.

Western Dairy Transport helped with a tanker truck carrying water.

Clovis Fire Chief Mike Nolen said his department sent three trucks to the scene, including a ladder truck and tanker.

Hampton Farms, located at U.S. 70 and Roosevelt Road P just north of Portales, employs about 170 workers, according to the Roosevelt County Community Development Corp. It’s the community’s fifth largest employer behind Eastern New Mexico University, the school district, the hospital and Walmart.

The Hampton Farms website reports it is “the leading roaster of in-shell peanuts in the United States.”

It has plants in North Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts and Lubbock, in addition to Portales.

The News Staff Writer Grant McGee contributed to this report.

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