Havre Daily News
Thanksgiving and holiday season plans for some area residents nearly took a hit early this morning when a local commercial smokehouse and 24 turkeys went up in flames.
“No customer products were lost. No customer products were affected,” Saddle Butte Custom Smoking owner David Anderson said today. “These turkeys were meant for retail and were not being prepared for anyone in particular.
“And we still have turkeys ready for Thanksgiving and will get the others ready for Christmas,” he added.
Havre firefighters responded to a report of the smokehouse fire at 2 a.m. inside a garage in the 2500 block of 38th Street Southeast. The fire began in a grease trap in the bottom of the walk-in smokehouse at Saddle Butte Custom Smoking, Havre Fire Chief Dave Sheppard said today.
The smokehouse was destroyed, Sheppard said, but the fire's effect on the garage was limited to some minor Sheetrock damage.
Anderson said he had set his alarm for about 2 a.m. to get up and check on the turkeys, so he discovered the fire just as it got going.
“I've got a shutdown system that when it gets so hot it shuts down,” Anderson said. “And I had the alarm to get up, luckily.”
The shutdown system cut off the flow of natural gas to the smokehouse, he said. The fire was contained to the spice and retail part of his shop, and the cutting and processing room was untouched.
He said none of his customers' meat on the site was lost. His coolers and freezers are still intact, he said. “We still have the capacity to hold product in the freezer.”
With hunting season winding down, Anderson was using his second smokehouse to cure wild game. That will change now, he said.
“I own two smokehouses, so I'm going to be down to half-capacity,” Anderson said. “I'm going to have to put the wild game on the back burner until after Christmas. We'll just be slowed down on wild game.”
Anderson said he would contact people with wild game meat on the premises and ask whether they want to wait or take the meat elsewhere for processing.
“With two houses, I could do both,” he said. “But with one, I have to make the decision to go with the holidays, because if people didn't have their turkeys, they'd be disappointed.”
Anderson estimated the replacement cost for the smokehouse at $12,000.