Production underway again at Heinz factory in Westwick

Production has restarted at a frozen potato factory in north Norfolk which suffered a major fire earlier this month.

Production at the Heinz factory in Westwick, near North Walsham, restarted on Wednesday, May 25, after a period of stoppage following a major fire at the site on May 6.

The fire started after an industrial fat fryer ignited at the plant, on Station Road, Westwick, which employs about 200 people.

No-one was hurt in the incident which saw around 90 firefighters from 10 stations at the scene.

The blaze closed the plant, which normally operates 12-hour round-the-clock shifts making frozen potato products for the Aunt Bessie's range.

The full recovery plan, led by the senior management and site teams, has included extensive cleaning of the factory and the return of all the electrical, steam and environmental management services.

Mike Etherington, factory site manager said: 'This has been a tremendous achievement by everyone at the site. Without the support and hard work of our employees this would not have been possible. We are also very grateful for the rapid response and dedicated support we received from the Norfolk County Council's fire and rescue service.'

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A spokesman for the company said as a result of the good progress made during the recovery operations, production commenced on one of the three production lines this week and is expected to be followed by another next week. Work to bring the remaining production line on stream continues.

An investigation into the fire is being carried out jointly by the fire service and Heinz.

The spokesman added: 'We are continuing to take all possible actions to minimise the impact on customers and consumers of the availability of Aunt Bessie's potato products which we produce under license from Aunt Bessie's Limited. Our senior team is working closely with Aunt Bessie's Limited and continues to manage every aspect of the full recovery plan.'

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