Georgia-Pacific plant fire in Thomson may hurt more than just the employees who worked there

Thursday, May 30, 2019
News 12 at 6 O'Clock/NBC at 7

The Georgia-Pacific fire is going to be damaging for employees, but what about the local economy. (Source: WRDW Viewer)

THOMSON, GA (WRDW/WAGT) – Almost 100 workers’ jobs are still up in the air following a fire at the Georgia-Pacific plant in Thomson.

Georgia-Pacific says the plant is a total loss.But while the workers will worry about their jobs, the plant’s fringe economic output could damage other aspects of the town.

Lynn Neal, owner of Neal’s BBQ, has served plant employees for years.

“They come and eat here,” Neal said. “We’ve catered for them for safety meetings.”

The employees bring her business. But this fire hits even closer to home for Neal.

“My nephew works there, so I was really concerned to make sure that he was safe, that nobody got hurt,” Neal said.

Georgia-Pacific says everyone made it out safe, but the building is destroyed.

“It’s just devastating, you know? It’s like a bad dream,” Neal said.

Losing business isn't what Neal is most concerned about -- it's her nephew’s future.

“I hope they'll build the plant back,” Neal said. “I really do for their sake because like I said, my nephew’s been there for several years, and he's just a super worker, and I know he really depends on that.”

Florence Story wants it rebuilt for the employees and the county.

“I know that's going to make an impact on the McDuffie County tax base to because this was another big industry here in this county, so I'm concerned,” Story said. “I hope they rebuild.”

But while this plant continues to burn, it takes a little piece of this community with it.

At this time Georgia-Pacific says it’s too early to know, but they are asking their employees to get with managers and human resources about what's next.

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