"This fire was so hot it blew chunks of concrete out of the ground and through the side and roof of the buildings," Soetaert said. "One piece went through the window of a fire truck."
The fire consumed 200,000 square feet of the facility south of
The cause of the fire was never determined, but it started in a stack of wooden bins after the last employee left for the night. More than 20,000 wooden bins burned for an estimated loss of
Some of the equipment was difficult to replace because it was built specifically for Shoei's needs. The facility had two in-shell processing and packing lines.
The rebuilding process began almost immediately and by the end of
The facility is now fully operational, and the company received its last insurance payment over the summer. Instead of five warehouses, the Shoei facility now has three larger warehouse buildings home to the walnut huller, drier and storage.
Shoei bought a 1,000-acre prune ranch west of
Coconuts were processed at the facility prior to the fire, but Shoei has yet to determine where it will put that aspect of its operation, Soetaert said.
The fire is the second major disaster to strike the Shoei facility near
"It took 20 years to pay off the flood damage," Soetaert said. "Japan has a tremendous investment and is dedicated to stay. The fire would have been a good way to back out."
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