Fire shutters Evans’ Innovative Foods temporarily
A fire at Innovative Foods in Evans, Colo., on Friday, April 17 has shuttered the meat processing facility. Tami Ellicott, who owns the plant with her husband, said the process of inspections to move forward have been slowed but they are getting closer to the rebuilding phase.
Ellicott said the front portion of the building will likely be rebuilt but there was either no damage or minimal damage to the harvesting floor, carcass cooler and cooler rooms.
“It’s been a process because of COVID to get all the inspectors out and be able to get through everything they need to get through before we know what we can do next,” Ellicott said.
After a week, Ellicott said they’re close to having indications of a plan moving forward with opening as soon as possible the goal. All operations have been suspended, save for some retail pickup and loading out orders processed prior to the fire.
“We’re going to be up and running as quickly as we possibly can based on the damage,” she said. “There was a good portion of the building that is unscathed. The portion of the building that will have to be rebuilt, they’re telling us can go pretty quickly.”
In all, Innovative has 27 employees and much of the meat processed is private label, USDA-inspected for resale. Per week, Innovative processes about 50 to 60 beef, 80 to 100 hogs, and 45 lambs and goats.
Already booking into March 2021, Ellicott said she understands how stressed the system is now and they’re securing other USDA-inspected options until the building can be back online. The investigation is ongoing as to the cause of the fire but she said the area of the most damage is the smokehouse.
“First and foremost, we want everybody to know that we’re not going anywhere, we’re going to be back and better than we were before, but we have some rebuilding to do to get to that point,” she said.
Ellicott said the company’s production manager, Andrew, was asked last Friday what the company would do and he told them, “we’re Innovative, we’ll be back.” ❖