What's next for Georgia-Pacific employees after massive fire?

Wednesday, May 29, 2019
News 12 at 11 O’Clock

This is the raw materials building at the Georgia-Pacific Plant in Thomson. (Source: Harlem Fire Department)

THOMSON, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – Clouds of smoke tower over the Georgia-Pacific plant in Thomson. Flames inside sent employees running about. About 100 people work here.

"My dad called my mother and I was on my way home from work and she called me," Jason Courtright said. "All he knew was there was a fire and they had to get out."

Jason Courtright's dad is one of those employees. His father has worked at the Thomson plant for more than 25 years.

"It's probably one of the biggest attractions in Thomson for jobs," Courtright said.

It's been a staple since 1927. The company was founded in Augusta and grew to more than 300 locations around the world.

"It's a major financial loss for Thomson and the surrounding areas. It provided a lot of jobs. It was a 24-7 operation."

Fire crews worked for hours trying to put out the flames, but eventually ran out of water. That's when they decided to  let the fire burn itself out.
"Well, for my dad, he's the sole income provider," Courtright said. "This is my parent's only source of income."

As workers watched the billowing smoke, they can only wonder what will be left for them.

"I'm just hoping he has a job at the end of the day. My mom is disabled and he takes care of her so this pays all their bills."

Questions and concerns linger about what happens next for dozens of families once the smoke clears.