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Nestlé coffee factory fire sparks mass evacuation

By Ben Bouckley+

07-Mar-2013
Last updated on 07-Mar-2013 at 13:23 GMT

Nestlé coffee factory fire sparks mass evacuation

Nestlé tells BeverageDaily.com that it chose to evacuate hundreds of staff from its main UK coffee factory yesterday – which makes its Nescafé and Dolce Gusto brands – after machinery caught fire.

A Nestlé UK spokeswoman told this publication: We can confirm that the fire brigade was called out to the Tutbury factory yesterday morning after a non-essential piece of machinery overheated.”

She added: “Our policy is to automatically evacuate the building and call the fire service. The fire service was able to put out the small fire and staff returned to work. Production was back to normal late yesterday afternoon.”

BeverageDaily.com contacted the Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service, which attended the blaze, for comment, but none was forthcoming as we went to press this morning.

Second fire inside three years

However, in a Facebook post issued at roughly 2pm UK time yesterday, the fire service confirmed that it was attending a ‘Substation fire, Marston Lane, Hatton, nr to Nestlé factory. Crew from Kingsway, Burton attending. Please avoid this area.’

According to local newspaper the Burton Mail, fire crews were called to the site at 11.24am, and the incident involved a small fire in the switching gear of a substation on the Marston Lane site.

Yesterday’s incident is the second fire at Marston Lane within three years; in August 2010 a boiler room blaze required the attendance of five local fire crews.

Nestlé plans to spend £200m ($299m) extending its Tutbury site to consolidate UK coffee production – freeze dried, spray dried and pod technology – for the first time, creating 125 new jobs, in addition to 300 new positions announced in November 2011.

Hayes closure update

As a result of the investment, the company’s facility in Hayes, Middlesex will close in 2014, and as of mid-January Nestlé was consulting with staff 230 staff, some of whom may take positions at Tutbury.

Discussing the latest situation at Hayes, the Nestlé spokeswoman said that the factory still played a vital role in Nescafé production, and that a phased transfer of production would begin in early 2014 leading to the event closure of the site in 2014.

“We are continuing individual discussions with employees, our priority being to focus on the support we can offer them in finding alternative jobs within Nestlé or jobs with other local employers,” she said.

But when Nestlé announced its coffee production shakeup last January, USDAW (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) greeted the move with dismay.

John Gorle, USDAW national officer, said: "This is absolutely devastating news for all the workers at Hayes, not all of whom would be able to move to Derbyshire even if the option was a remotely practical possibility for them."

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