Factory workers threatened to open fire if they left before the hurricane, employees say

Mayfield, Guy. — a The devastating hurricane was approaching the city On Friday, employees at a candle factory — which will be destroyed later — sounded warning sirens and wanted to leave the building. But at least five workers’ supervisors warned employees they would be fired if they left their shifts early.

For hours, word for word The coming storm spreadFifteen workers begged managers to allow them to take refuge in their own homes, and their demands were rejected, the workers said.

Fearing for their safety, some left during their changes regardless of the consequences.

At least eight people have died in a Mayfield consumer product factory that makes scented candles. The facility has been rehabilitated, leaving only ruins. Photos and videos of its widespread wreckage have become symbols of the massive destructive power of Friday’s hurricane system.

Kentucky Governor Andy Bessier said Those 74 people on Monday Confirmed dead in the state.

McKayla Emery, 21, said in an interview from her hospital bed that workers were asked to leave first shortly after 5:30 pm when hurricane sirens sounded outside the factory.

Mayfield Consumer Products Candle Factory and nearby buildings Jan. Satellite images show Saturday, 28, 2017 and beyond.MAXAR Technologies via Reuters

Staff gathered in bathrooms and hallways, but the real hurricane would not come for several more hours. Workers said many began to return home after staff decided the immediate danger had passed.

“People questioned whether they could go out or go home,” Emery said, adding that he wanted to stay at work and earn extra money. Overtime pay was obtained, but it is not clear whether the occupants were paid extra.

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Supervisors and team leaders told employees that leaving the staff could affect their work.

«If you leave, you’ll be more likely to be fired,» Emery said, adding that managers had asked four workers standing next to him to leave. «I heard it with my ears.»

Another employee, Haley Conder, 29, said about 15 people were told to go home during the night shift shortly after the first emergency alarm sounded outside the facility.

He said there was a three- to four-hour window between the first and second emergency alarms, when workers should be allowed to go home.

Initially, the group leaders told him that they would not allow workers to leave because of security precautions, so they kept them all in the hallways and bathrooms. Staff said they sent everyone to work when they mistakenly thought the hurricane was no longer dangerous.

Anyone wishing to leave should be allowed in, Conder said.

Elijah Johnson, 20, was working in the back of the building when several staff members who wanted to go home walked in to talk to supervisors. He agreed to the request.

«I told them to leave and they said they would fire me,» Johnson said. «Despite the weather like this, are you still going to remove me?» He asked.

«Yes,» one manager replied, Johnson told NBC News.

Johnson said managers have gone so far as to take a roll call in the hope that they will find out who left the job.

Company officials have denied the allegations.

A rescue worker and a dead dog arrived Saturday at the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory in Mayfield, Ky.John Amis via Getty Images / AFP

«This is completely untrue,» said Bob Ferguson, a spokeswoman for Mayfield Consumer Products. “We have had a policy since Kovit started. Employees can leave at any time and return the next day.

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He denied that managers told employees that leaving their shifts would endanger their work. Ferguson said managers and team leaders undergo a series of emergency trainings following the guidelines of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“Those protocols are in place and they were followed,” he said.

Through the 24-hour hotline from Monday, employees can call for emergency pay, grief counseling and other assistance, he said.

Autumn Kirks, the factory’s committee chairman who worked that night, denied that their jobs would be threatened if people did not go inside on MSNBC on Monday afternoon.

But Latvia Halliburton, another employee, said she saw workers being threatened with dismissal if they left.

“Some asked if they could leave,” he said, but managers said they would be fired if they did so.

The first hurricane warning passed without any damage, but several hours later another warning was issued. When the second hurricane siren sounded just after 9pm on Friday, Conder and the others approached the three managers to go home.

«» You can not leave. You can not leave. You should be right here, » the managers told her. “The situation was bad. Everyone was embarrassed.

Mark Saxton, 37, a forklift operator, said he wanted to leave but was not given the option.

«It simply came to our notice then. We should have been able to get out, ”Saxton said. «The first warning came. They let us go on the sidewalk. After the warning, they told us to go to work. They did not come forward to take us home.

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As the storm moved forward after the second siren, crews took refuge. The lights in the building began to burn.

After a while, Emery, who was standing near the candlelight and scent room, The piece of concrete hit the head.

«I’m not kidding you, I heard a loud noise, I know the next thing, I’m stuck under a cement wall,» she said. «I could not move anything. I could not push anything. I was stuck.

Emery, who had been trapped for six hours, had several chemical burns from candle wax on her legs, buttocks and forehead. She also had kidney damage, her urine was black, and she was swollen and could not move her legs yet because she had not moved for a long time.

Staff who wanted to go home as soon as possible said they had been mistreated.

“It hurts because we feel neglected,” Saxton said.

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