Fire Engulfs Thomas Foods International Abattoir Near Murray Bridge

Extra firefighters are being rushed to one of South Australia’s biggest abattoirs, where a huge industrial fire continues to burn.

The fire at the Thomas Foods International plant on Lagoon Road at Northern Heights near Murray Bridge sent plumes of smoke billowing across the area.

Residents were advised to stay indoors and shut their doors and windows.

About 80 firefighters from South Australia’s Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) and Country Fire Service (CFS) were battling the blaze.

Thomas Foods fire

The MFS said about 20 appliances were on scene, with crews from as far afield as Glen Osmond, Woodville and O’Halloran Hill.

“A further 20 firefighters are en route to the incident,” an MFS spokeswoman said.

“MFS and CFS firefighters are using defensive strategies to attack the fire due to a partial structural collapse.”

The MFS said firefighters were pumping water from a nearby lagoon to assist with the water supply.

“Management are currently removing livestock to safer refuge,” the spokeswoman said.

Smoke billows from a meat processing factory fire.

In a statement, the company said its employees who were on site “were safely and promptly evacuated”.

“The exact cause of the fire and the full extent of the structural damage is yet to be determined,” it said.

Large crowds of onlookers watched the fire, but members of the public were advised to avoid the scene and roads in the area have been closed off.

The MFS said the alarm was raised just before 7:00pm.

It said initial reports suggested the blaze was a grassfire.

Mayor Brenton Lewis said the factory is the town’s largest employer with a local workforce of about 1,400.

Mr Lewis described the plant as one of the nation’s largest privately-owned abattoirs and a major exporter of lamb.

The company said it was “making alternative processing arrangements to meet our customer requirements”.