In this file:


·         Harper's Country Hams in Clinton, KY destroyed by fire

·         Employees, owners at a loss over Harper's Country Hams fire

·         Community helps employees after award-winning Harper’s Ham business destroyed in fire



Harper's Country Hams in Clinton, KY destroyed by fire


by Joshua Murray, Digital Producer, KFVS (MO)

February 9th 2017




An early morning fire at Harper's Country Hams in Clinton, Kentucky on Wednesday remains under investigation.


Crews were called to the business around 5:50 a.m.


U.S. 51 was blocked to traffic for hours as crews worked to put the fire out.


Crews were still on the scene on Wednesday night.


Officials say the state fire marshal is investigating, and the crews are waiting for the area to cool down before they begin going through the damage to determine the cause of the fire.


According to Keith Todd with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, due to changing wind conditions, there was an issue with smoke blowing across U.S. 51 from time to time on Wednesday afternoon that slowed traffic flow.


Drivers are reminded to slow down and use appropriate caution in the area due to the smoke.


He said this will likely continue to be an issue through the night as firefighters continue trying to extinguish hot spots.


The building is considered a total loss.


We're told about 60 people worked at Harper's Country Hams, and they're all looking for work now.


One of the fire captains on scene actually worked at the business. He said it's a loss that a lot of people are feeling.


"It's devastating. I mean, I love this company. There's roots throughout the United States with this company and I know it's going to hurt this family that owns this company as well as the families that work for this company," said Captain Eric Byassee with Hickman County Fire and Rescue. "I mean, it may not have sunk in yet. It will, but they'll rebuild and move on."


A local church opened their doors to employees to let them begin filing for unemployment benefits.


Community members have rallied together and formed a group called the Community Aid and Relief Effort, or C.A.R.E., to accept donations. Donations are being accepted at the Clinton Bank and the First Community Bank (both located in Clinton) and the Hickman County Attorney’s Office. Donations can also be mailed to the following address:


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Employees, owners at a loss over Harper's Country Hams fire


By Amanda Roberts & Jason Thomason, WPSD-TV (KY)

Feb 08, 2017




A massive fire has the owners of Harper's Country Hams and employees there wondering what to do next. The fire started around 5 a.m. Wednesday. Multiple agencies from five counties responded, closing U.S. 51 temporarily in Hickman County to get crews and supplies to the fire.


The cause of the fire is still unknown, but no one was inside and no one was hurt. I have been at the scene all day. The fire is not under control yet, in part because of thick smoke being carried by the wind. The smoke makes it difficult for firefighters. You can smell it from miles away, and it's hard to see anything on some roads.


Employees and owners say it's hard to see how their lives will move forward without their livelihood.


The flames spread quickly Wednesday morning, but by the time anything could be done, it was too late. Workers like Shelton Morris say they're fortunate they weren't inside.


"I got out, and that's when I saw the smoke from the building," Morris says. "It was real black. I couldn't see anything."


Morris was one of the workers to call 911, but by that time all he could do was wait. "You never show up at work and think something like that will happen," he says,


Now, he's filling out unemployment information with his co-workers.


Harper's Country Hams co-owner Brian Harper says he's accustomed to getting bad calls early in the morning. There was another fire at the company 40 years ago.


"It's obviously devastating for our employees, for our family, and the whole community, really," he says. Harper says now they're trying to figure out how to take care of their employees and customers.


"The Lord does answer," he says.


Even though it's difficult to see how this can be rebuilt, Morris says — especially now — they have to band together.


The fire marshal is investigating. Crews will be at the at the site of the burning business all Wednesday night until the fire is contained. The building's large size and age, along with the fact that it has flammable packing materials inside half of it, is making the fire particularly challenging to fight.


Hickman  County Fire and Rescue Chief David Cox says he's getting lots of calls from area fire departments to see if they need more help. So far, firefighters have used more than 61,000 gallons of water brought in from surrounding areas...


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Community helps employees after award-winning Harper’s Ham business destroyed in fire


By John Pfeifer, The Paducah Sun

via Lexington Herald Leader (KY) - February 9, 2017


An early-morning fire Wednesday destroyed Harper’s Country Ham in Clinton, burning most of the 100,000-square-foot building to the ground and leaving the future of the business and its 70 employees in doubt.


No one was in the building when the fire started, and no injuries were reported.


David Cox, chief of Hickman County Fire and Rescue, said the fire was called in to 911 at 5:50 a.m.


“I knew immediately this was going to be something that we needed help from multiple agencies,” Cox said. The word went out, and emergency response teams from Hickman, Carlisle, Graves, Fulton and Ballard counties assisted.


Plant manager Sean Goetz called the building “a total loss.” Goetz arrived at the business on U.S. 51 around 6 a.m. and said it appeared that the fire started near the middle of the building.


Cox would not speculate on where the fire started or its cause. He said variable winds caused the fire to spread quickly.


The state fire marshal is investigating.


First District U.S. Rep. James Comer released a statement saying, “I was saddened to hear about the devastating fire that burned Harper’s Country Hams. Thankfully no one died in the fire, but the loss on the community is terrible. As a well-known business in Hickman County, it is an important part of many people’s lives in western Kentucky. Our thoughts are with the firefighters, the employees and their families today.”


Gov. Matt Bevin posted on social media, “We just received news of a fire at Harper’s Foods, a fixture in the Clinton community for generations. We are thankful for those fighting this fire, and pray the situation will soon be resolved.”


It’s uncertain what’s next for the company.


“We don’t know what our future plans are,” President Dolores Harper said as she took a break from visiting with employees at First United Methodist Church in downtown Clinton...