Two workers died in an early morning fire Monday at the Evergreen Packaging paper mill in Canton, North Carolina.

The three-alarm fire erupted at about 5:15 a.m. in a process vessel tank that was being repaired as part of regular maintenance and cleaning. Several fire departments were called to the scene and got the flames under control by around 8 a.m., but not in time to save the two workers.

“We have been working with the fire department to first and foremost ensure people are protected, second contain the fire, and third, investigate the cause,” said mill manager Wally McDonald in a statement. The North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Occupational Safety and Health Division is also investigating the incident.

“There’s a lot of unknowns about this story,” Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers told WAFF-TV. “But what I do know is the folks from our fire department, especially, and our police force and emergency management, they did their jobs and they were ready to help.”

The paper mill takes up about 200 acres across downtown Canton and employs about 1,000. It is Haywood County’s largest industrial employer. The Canton Mill houses four paper and paperboard machines that manufacture products such as stock cups, commercial paper, and packaging for liquid products like orange juice containers.

Mayor Smathers said the paper mill has been a fixture in downtown Canton for more than 100 years. “It’s not just a place you work,” he said. “It gives us character.”

Workplace injury lawyers

Beasley Allen handles a variety of cases related to workplace safety, including situations similar to this. While all workers should be guaranteed a safe working environment, all too often we handle cases of serious injuries and deaths resulting from a hazardous work environment. Many times our investigation reveals defective or dangerous machinery was involved, or employers failed to provide adequate protections or ignored safety regulations. If you need more information, contact Kendall Dunson or Evan Allen, lawyers in our Personal Injury & Products Liability Section who handle workplace litigation for our firm.

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