MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

February 2, 2011

Plant shut down after snow causes roof collapse

FORT GIBSON — An area company that employees more than 85 people is shut down temporarily after a roof collapse.

Simmons Metal Container on Benge Road suffered the collapse Tuesday afternoon, said General Manager Dennis Portello.

Portello saw the extent of the damage for the first time Wednesday afternoon — because he couldn’t leave his house because of the snow and icy roads, he said.

“We don’t really know anything right now,” Portello said. “We have engineers coming in tomorrow to tell us if it’s possible to shore it up safely. But that’s all we really know so far.”

Employees will be contacted sometime in the next few days, as soon as the business has a plan of action, he said.

The roof of the metal building that collapsed is two-tiered. Blowing snow built up until the roof collapsed from the east side to the west side of the building, he said.

The Fort Gibson police and fire departments were notified at 3:09 p.m. Tuesday.

The collapse set off a security alarm at the plant, and the alarm company called 911. There were no employees in the building.

The plant normally runs two shifts, sometimes three, the general manager said.

“Fortunately, we closed the plant down the day before because of the weather,” Portello said.

On Wednesday, the collapsed roof could be seen clearly from U.S. 62.

Inside, gaping holes are letting in snow and sunshine — and leaving huge puddles on the plant floor.

“It doesn’t look like the equipment has been hit too badly,” Portello said. “But we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Simmons Metal Container makes cans for pet food, juices and other food items.

The plant has a great deal of stock ready to ship, but Portello said they may not be able to get the stock out.

“It’s too dangerous to allow anyone in there, so we don’t know yet,” Portello said.

Reach Wendy Burton at 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.

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