A large section of roof at San Benito Foods collapsed Wednesday afternoon, prompting an evacuation and investigation into its cause.
The collapse was reported at 4:24 p.m. at 110 Hawkins St. in Hollister. It was a “catastrophic collapse” in one of the warehouses of the main complex, said Battalion Chief Charlie Bedolla with the Hollister Fire Department.
All employees were accounted for when firefighters arrived, Bedolla said, while crews examined the structures to see if there was any other damage. The collapse was contained to that section, which was about 75 feet by 150 feet, Bedolla said. Utilities came out to secure the area as well, he said.
It turns out employees had noticed pieces of the roof falling before the collapse and got out before it happened. There are about 30 workers in that area normally, the battalion chief said.
The precise cause is unclear, but Bedolla surmised it could be such factors as age, weather or earthquakes that led to it. There have been other structural issues at San Benito Foods in recent years, too.
“It’s an old building,” Bedolla said.
He said the building official and fire officials determined there’s a need for structural engineers to evaluate the buildings “to determine if it’s safe.” In the meantime, there might be odor issues coming from the plant since there were products stuck on the conveyor belt when the collapse occurred.
The San Benito Foods canning season is normally about 10-12 weeks in the summertime.