MAYFIELD, Ky.–You’ve been hearing about the candle factory that collapsed in the Mayfield, Kentucky tornado. That’s where Indiana’s Task Force 1 is working. Indianapolis Fire Dept. Division Chief Tom Neal, commander of Task Force 1, says teams are using a 90 ft. crane to peel back the factory roof and rubble as they search.
“We’re going through a methodic peeling and removing of the roof structure currently to help provide additional void spaces for the canines to get down and see if we can locate anyone that might still be remaining in the structure,” he said.
LISTEN: Tom Neal Interview from the scene of the collapse
Helping in the effort are three specially-trained search dogs from Indiana: Jake, Eddie and Virgil.
“They’re doing methodic searches,” said Neal. He said that as they peel back roof and debris the dogs are brought in to sniff and search for people.
One obstacle is that searchers don’t know exactly how many people they are looking for. They are working to find out how many people and who was in the candle factory when the tornado came through.
Task Force 1 crews are conducting search and rescue operations this morning at the site of the Mayfield Consumer Products Candle Factory in Mayfield, Kentucky. #fema #PrayForKentucky #Mayfield @NAT_USAR_NEWS pic.twitter.com/1eJYrXed19
— Indiana Task Force 1 (@IN_Task_Force_1) December 12, 2021
“We’re still trying to identify a factual number of those that are unaccounted for. We still don’t have a handle on that,” said Neal. “Not only is the company owner has reached out to family members of his employees and he’s trying to get information as to whether they may have self-extricated, were they not even in the building at the time of the storm.”
Neal spoke to us from the scene for the collapse. He said the steel structure, which consisted of the factory and office space, gave way during the tornado.
“And that just absolutely collapsed during the height of the storm.”
Neal added that no one from Task Force One has pulled anyone from the rubble yet (as of Monday afternoon).
“What we’re hoping, and this is the best hope, is that they’re accounted for, but somewhere else,” he said.