For the second time in less than 20 days, a fish processor in New Brunswick, Canada, has lost a major plant to fire.
A blaze Sunday morning in Cap-Pele on the Canadian province’s east coast destroyed a large lobster processing facility owned by Cape Bald Packers.
Cap-Pelé Mayor Serge Léger said he was in shock and too upset to continue speaking. “We could lose up to 500 jobs here,” he told the media. “It’s the biggest employer in Cap-Pelé. It’s a very sad moment. I hope the community will come together and they’ll rebuild.”
Joanna Losier, the company’s manager of corporate affairs and human resources, said the first fire that destroyed a lobster plant in Richibucto this month felt like a slap in the face, but that the latest blaze feels like a knockout.
She said that while the social media rumor mill is rampant with speculation on the cause of the fires, there’s as yet no indication of foul play.
“People have questions … we have our own questions,” she said. “It’s only human nature to try to understand why this is happening.”
Losier added that there were indications pointing to an electrical issue as the cause of the first fire, while fire crews were still investigating the Cap Pele blaze last Monday.
On Monday afternoon, the RCMP said officers from its nearby Shediac detachment, along with the New Brunswick fire marshal, are also investigating the cause of the Cap-Pele fire.
Cape Bald Packers employed about 175 workers in Richibucto and about 500 over two plants in Cap-Pele.
“Everybody is crying,” Losier told the press. “It’s a blow because, like in many plants, it’s like a family. People have worked here for years. They know everybody. This is like somebody died.”
Resilience, the key
Cap-Pele Mayor Serge Leger said the community was heartbroken but that its people are resilient.
“We’re there to support them. We’re hoping everyone can pull through this,” Leger said Monday.
Losier said the company plans to meet with employees this week to begin the process of getting people back to work.
She said they’ll try to put all employees to work at a second facility in Cap-Pele when the fishing season picks up again in May.
Cape Bald Packers buys lobster for processing from across the Maritimes and Maine. The second facility in Cap-Pele also processes crabs and mussels.