Workers at the tornado-ravaged Kentucky candle factory say they were told they’d be fired if they fled the facility as the killer twister closed in, according to a report Monday.
The Mayfield Consumer Products plant was later leveled by the catastrophic twister, which killed at least eight workers and left eight others still unaccounted for, NBC News reported.
“[Employees] had questioned if they could leave or go home,” worker McKayla Emery, 21, told the outlet. ” ‘If you leave, you’re more than likely to be fired.’ I heard that with my own ears.”
More than a dozen workers at the factory during the nightshift Friday pleaded to go home after emergency alarms warned of the coming twister, added another worker, Haley Conder.
She said managers told the crew, ” ‘You can’t leave. You have to stay here.’
“The situation was bad,” she said. “Everyone was uncomfortable.”
Some workers left before the storm regardless of the threats — but others stayed, employees told the outlet.
Then the factory was torn apart.
“I kid you not, I heard a loud noise, and the next thing I know, I was stuck under a cement wall,” Emery said. “I couldn’t move anything. I couldn’t push anything. I was stuck.”
Forklift driver Mark Saxton added, “That’s the thing. We should have been able to leave.
“The first warning came, and they just had us go in the hallway,” he said. “After the warning, they had us go back to work. They never offered us to go home.”
Within a few hours, the Mayfield plant was leveled — so hard-hit that Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said during a Monday briefing that it was “a Christmas miracle” that only eight workers had been confirmed dead.
But the company denied the claims.
“It’s absolutely untrue,” said Bob Ferguson to NBC. “We’ve had a policy in place since COVID began. Employees can leave any time they want to leave, and they can come back the next day.”
He added that bosses are trained in emergency drills following guidelines from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration and that “those protocols are in place and were followed.”
On Sunday, the girlfriend of a worker killed at an Illinois Amazon plant said her beau was told he could not leave that facility as the storm moved in, killing him and five other employees.
So far, 74 people have been confirmed dead from the storm in Kentucky, with 109 others listed as unaccounted for — although Beshear said the actual number was likely “way higher.”