Beloved jerky plant goes up in flames

Updated: 01/05/2014 10:40 PM | Created: 01/05/2014 10:36 PM
By: Jen Samp, KOB Eyewitness News 4

It is known as a staple in the community.

Sunset Foods in Valencia County has been known for its premium jerky for decades.

But this morning it went up in flames.

“Everyone knows the jerky store,” Valencia Country resident Kevin Bell said.

Bell has lived next door to Sunset Foods most of his life.

“It’s a place we’ve gone since we were little,” Bell said. “They’ve got candy, jerky.”

The jerky plant caught fire around noon.

Bell says he felt helpless as the flames took over the building.

“I don’t know if they can save it,” Bell said.

"We don't know the cause yet,” Valencia County Fire Battalion Chief Steven Gonzales said.

Gonzales says they had control of the fire, but it flared up again around 2:30 p.m., when flammable products inside caught fire.

Chopper 4 was over the scene.

Flames and smoke were seen coming out of the roof and walls as fire crews worked to extinguish it.

“There is a lot entry doors through the exterior of the building that are nothing but boiler rooms and storage compartments,” Gonzales said.

Chief Gonzales says half of the building is considered a complete loss.

For some of the firefighters battling the blaze, this one was personal.

Many of them are longtime customers.

"It's a heaven for some of us, the jerky was just amazing," Gonzales said.

There is a possibility that a meat dryer could have been left on without ventilation, which could have caused the fire.

It is something the fire investigator will investigate.

But regardless of the cause, locals like Bell hope the business they have enjoyed for 30 years can recover and continue to make delicious jerky that everyone seems to love.

The jerky store owners put a post on their Facebook page that asks people to keep them in their prayers.

It is unknown whether Sunset Foods can rebuild. 

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