Georgia-Pacific Employees Worried After Muskogee Plant Fire
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma - News On 6 has spoken with almost a dozen people who work in the building. They say they are unsure of what the future will hold for them.
One man says he was in the building when the explosion happened last night. He says, he has no idea how everyone got out safely. Muskogee Firefighters are rotating in and out of their stations hauling their gear, drenched in water and sweat and covered in soot.
"A fire like that makes you dig down deep and makes you really wonder you know that I really signed on for this? Like I said luckily that doesn't happen that often. But a fire like that will definitely tax you on your will to work here," said Muskogee Assistant Fire Chief John Tipton.
It was all hands on deck when a propane forklift inside the paper mill caught fire and then exploded. Between the paper dust and bails, firefighters say the blaze was overwhelming. They worked for hours alongside the Georgia Pacific Fire brigade putting out the flames.
"You know everybody when they drive-by they're going to see the roof collapsed and black on the front of it. Well, it goes from there almost all the way to the back of the building which is a long, long ways," said Tipton, "Until you stand on Ground Zero or you're actually in the middle of the building looking around it's hard to fathom how bad it was and it could've been a whole lot worse."
Georgia Pacific Spokesman Tom Strother says they are thankful their safety protocols worked and that every employee got out safely. They say they will rebuild but there is a long road ahead and until they get inside they won't officially know what caused the explosion.
"Anytime you go through a catastrophic event like this it's difficult. It's difficult for on the employees. It's difficult on all of us but the good news is we are Georgia-Pacific and we are going to rebuild. We're going to repair whatever has been damaged. The key right now is to be able to get in there and understand what the damage is and then we can go to work at trying to fix it and get everybody back to work," said Strother.