Wasantha Mudannayake looks ahead to a bright future. Yesterday he sang the praises of firefighters and other emergency officers whom he credits with saving the Teys Brother meatworks on Saturday.
Wasantha Mudannayake looks ahead to a bright future. Yesterday he sang the praises of firefighters and other emergency officers whom he credits with saving the Teys Brother meatworks on Saturday. Chris Ison

Meatworks boss praises firies

AS Wasantha Mudannayake gazed on Saturday at the flames racing towards the Rockhampton meatworks he manages, he thought 1000 people wouldn't be working this week.

Yesterday Wasantha was still marvelling at the amazing job the authorities did to limit the damage of a wildfire to the Teys Brothers' plant.

While the damage bill will be in the “hundreds of thousands” of dollars, one of Rockhampton's biggest employers will return to full production today.

And that's great news for many Rockhampton families and the wider community.

“At one stage, I thought this is it: we are in deep, deep trouble,” said Wasantha as he recalled the fire at the weekend.

“It was like a war zone. There were helicopters flying over trying to put out the fire and lots of people on the ground doing all they could too.

“They all did a phenomenal job.”

He said he couldn't praise enough those who came to the aid of the meatworks.

“I would like to sincerely thank them all ... they are all saviours,” Wasantha said.

“If they hadn't done such a good job the impact would have been a lot more.”

The meatworks has been closed for three days while repair work is undertaken.

The plant suffered significant damage to its refrigeration units, where the frozen meat is kept, and all the fence lines have been destroyed.

Freezer experts have come up from Brisbane to repair the refrigerators. Temporary fences have been put up to hold cattle.

Permanent fencing will be up in time.

Queensland Rail has also fixed the onsite rail bridge, which was damaged by the fire.

Wasantha said the final damage bill was still to be assessed, but he expected it to be in the “hundreds of thousands” of dollars.

On Saturday, meatworks security called him warning of the impending fire.

Since then he's been among those working hard to get things up and running again.

It has been a tough year for the meatworks industry, with a shortage of cattle caused by the drought, rail transport problems and the impact of the global financial crisis.

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