CAP-PELE, N.B. – For the second time in just 17 days, a New Brunswick fish processor has lost a major plant to fire, but the company is downplaying speculation of foul play.
A blaze Sunday morning in Cap-Pele, on the province’s east coast, destroyed a large lobster processing facility owned by Cape Bald Packers.
Joanna Losier, the company’s manager of corporate affairs and human resources, says the
first fire that destroyed a lobster plant in Richibucto this month felt like a slap in the face, but the latest blaze feels like a knockout.
She said the social media rumour mill is rampant with speculation on the cause of the fires, but she says there’s no indication of foul play.
“People have questions … we have our own questions,” she said. “It’s only human nature to try to understand why this is happening.”
Losier said there are indications pointing to an electrical issue as the cause of the first fire, while fire crews were still investigating the Cap Pele blaze on Monday.
On Monday afternoon, the RCMP said officers from its nearby Shediac detachment, along with the New Brunswick fire marshal, are also investigating the cause of the Cap-Pele fire.
The company employed about 175 workers in Richibucto and about 500 between two plants in Cap-Pele.
Losier said the company has insurance and will look to rebuild, but right now the biggest impact is emotional.
“Everybody is crying. It’s a blow because, like in many plants, it’s like a family. People have worked here for years. They know everybody. This is like somebody died,” she said.
Cap-Pele Mayor Serge Leger said his community is heartbroken but the people are resilient.
‘We’re there to support them. We’re hoping everyone can pull through this,” Leger said Monday.
Losier said the company plans to meet with employees this week to begin the process to get people back to work.
She said they’ll try to use all the employees at another facility in Cap-Pele when the fishing season picks up again in May.
The company buys lobster for processing from across the Maritimes and Maine, and the second facility in Cap-Pele also processes crabs and mussels.