Mayfield, Kentucky – About 110 people were in the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory when a deadly tornado touched down at approximately midnight December 10th thru 11th in Mayfield, a community located in the southwest corner of Kentucky with a population of about 10,000 people. Mayfield is 227 miles southwest of Louisville and 134 miles northwest of Nashville. Eight people have been confirmed dead and eight were still missing as of Sunday.
The candle factory was one of the largest employers in Mayfield, and many of the employees were working overtime due to the demands of the holiday season.
The devastating tornados touched down late Friday night thru early Saturday morning and barreled through parts of Kentucky near the Tennessee border ripping off the roofs and throwing debris into throughfares. Governor Beshear declared a state of emergency and has deployed 181 National Guard troops to affected zones Saturday morning.
At a Saturday 5 a.m. briefing, Gov. Andy Beshear said “There were about 110 people in it at the time that the tornado hit it” and continued saying “We believe we’ll lose at least dozens of those individuals. It’s very hard. Really tough. And we’re praying for each and every one of those families.”
In Mayfield, Beshear held back tears as he described the devastation, he observed late Saturday morning at the candle factory.
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“We’re gonna lose a lot of lives at that facility,” Beshear said. “And I pray that there will be another rescue, and pray they’ll there’ll be another one or two. But it’s a very dire situation at this point.”
“I think the largest loss of life in this tornado event is and will be there, and it may end up being the largest loss of life in any tornado event in a single location in the state’s history,” Beshear said.
Kathy Stewart O’Nan, who is the Mayor Mayfield was heartbroken upon seeing the destruction said “We’re a small community. We are a strong community. I know that in the months to come, we will see the best of the people in this town. This is what we do. We take care of each other in bad times.”
Some candle factory employees who were hurt in the tornado have retained attorneys based out of Lexington and Washington, D.C., to file claims resulting from the catastrophe.
Amos Jones, one of the attorneys, said in a Tuesday night news release that the survivors claim many violations of law, including “a massive cover-up discovered within the last 24 hours with an incontrovertible smoking gun,”
Kyanna Parsons-Perez, an employee at the candle factory, said workers had been rushed to a safe area before the tornado hit. “My ears start popping. And it was like the building, we all just rocked back and forth, and then boom — everything fell on us,” she said.
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Parsons-Perez said an object hit her head, and when the confusion stopped, she said her legs were trapped beneath a water fountain.
She began to hear moans and prayers from her colleagues, she said, and she tried to keep calm by telling jokes. However, as time went on, she lost feeling in her toes and became worried, she said. At some point, she began streaming on Facebook Live.
“I don’t know who’s watching,” she said, “Y’all please send us some help. We are trapped. The wall is stuck on me. Nobody can get to us. Y’all. Pray for us. Try and get somebody to help us.”
Parsons-Perez told reporters that she was trapped under 5 feet of wreckage for about two hours until first responders were able to free her “I was screaming like, ‘Sir, can you please just get this so I can move my leg?’ He said, ‘Ma’am, there’s about 5 feet worth of debris on top of you.”
She said it was the “absolutely the most terrifying” event she had ever experienced. “I did not think I was going to make it at all.”
“Once I got out of there, I couldn’t do anything but thank God,” she said. “That’s the only thing that saved me. It’s unbelievable that anybody walked away from there.”
Another employee at the Mayfield, Kentucky, candle factory destroyed by a tornado last Friday said a supervisor told him that he would be fired if he left.
Elijah Johnson, the employee, said in an interview Tuesday “I said, ‘Man, you’re going to refuse to let us leave, even if the weather is this bad and the tornado’s not here yet?’ He was like, ‘If you want to decide to leave, if you want to leave, you can leave, but you’re going to be terminated. You’re going to be fired,”
When asked about the accusation, Bob Ferguson, a spokesperson for Mayfield Consumer Products the company that owns the factory, said the they had spoken withal of the supervisors who were working that night, and they all denied that any employees were told that they would be terminated if they left before they were supposed to. He also stated that some employees did leave that night and employees are normally free to come and go without reprisal.
“Employees can go home at any time without any penalty,” Ferguson said. “Since COVID has made it so difficult to find employees, we have mended our practices.
“If someone comes to work, and three hours into the shift, they say ‘I want to go home,’ they’re free to go home without penalties, and they can come back to work the next day and start.”
“We know for sure that more than 90 employees escaped with their lives on the night of the tornadoes,” Ferguson said. “We’ve had a miracle situation,” company spokesman Bob Ferguson said. “Only eight lost.”
After talking with workers who survived the tornado, Attorney John Caudill said he has some questions and is looking for answers on how this could have been avoided. Caudill said there was plenty of time after the tornado warning and asked “Why were there over 100 workers in this particular building during this tornado?”
“The question is, how much notice did the people who were in charge of this company have, and what did they do about it?” Caudill asked and said he plans to interview as many personnel as he can to and may take legal action.
Caudill said “There’s no basement in this building” he said which is something that could have provided shelter during the tornado.
The word candle comes from Middle English candel, from Old English and from Anglo-Norman candele, both from Latin candēla, from candēre ‘to shine’.
Preceding the candle, people used oil lamps where a burning wick was set in a vessel of liquid oil. The Romans started producing true dipped candles from tallow, beginning around 500 BC and candles made in European ancient times were made from numerous forms of natural fat, tallow, and wax. In ancient Rome, candles were made of tallow due to the prohibitive cost of beeswax and today, 100% pure beeswax candles can cost up to 10 times as much as soy or paraffin candles.
The highly toxic fumes and soot released by burning paraffin wax are the same as those found in burning diesel fuel.
Poisonous chemicals present in paraffin (and released into the air through burning) include, but are not limited to known carcinogens such as: Acetone, Benzene, Toluene, Trichlorofluoromethane, Carbon Disulfide, 2-Butanone, Trichloroethane, Carbon Tetrachloride, Tetrachloroethene, Chlorobenzene, Ethylbenzene, Styrene, Xylene, Phenol, Cresol and Cyclopentene.
To learn more about this subject, type “Paraffin Candles Toxic”, “Toxic Fumes Scented Candles” or any combination of similar keywords into the search box of your favorite search engine.
100% pure beeswax candles are made of beeswax which is a natural, raw organic product of the hive made by honey bees. 100% pure beeswax burn clean and have their own natural honey-floral fragrance even when not burning. Unlike paraffin candles, they do not contain any additives, synthetic chemicals or leave behind black soot from smoke when they are burned.
The highest quality beeswax candles are hand poured or dipped and made with 100% cotton wicks and 100% all natural, unbleached yellow beeswax, produced by bees in the USA.