MERSIN, TURKEY — Alliance Grain Traders Inc. (AGTI) announced on Dec. 29 that a fire occurred at its Arbel Group compound located in Mersin, Turkey in the early morning hours of Dec. 27.

The full cause of the fire, and the extent of damage and losses, is still under investigation by local authorities and AGTI’s insurer. No one was injured in the fire and management currently believes that there is no material environmental impact as a result of this incident.

Initial reports of the cause indicate that a third-party-operated truck and trailer carrying a delivery of white beans caught fire shortly after arriving at the premises, with the fire quickly spreading to nearby warehouses. Preliminary reports from authorities have deemed the fire accidental.

Preliminary assessments show extensive damage to two warehouse buildings and an enclosed loading and receiving area. Inventory stored within the affected and nearby areas, consisting of lentils, popcorn, chickpeas, rice, beans and packaging materials (jute bags, cartons, polyethylene film and polypropylene bags) were also destroyed in the fire.

It is believed that approximately 7,000 to 10,000 tonnes of pulses and grains inventory were lost or affected by the fire.

“Obviously, we are very relieved that no one was injured in the fire. We are very grateful that the only loss was to inventory and warehouses that can be easily replaced. We are working with local authorities and our insurance specialists to determine the full cause of the fire and the extent of damage and our losses, and we will have more to report in due course as details are available,” said Murad Al-Katib, president and chief executive officer of AGTI. “We are relieved that our processing facilities on the pulses and grains side of our business are largely unaffected. Although we have temporarily shut down the Mersin facility in connection with the investigation, we are expecting production to resume on Jan. 3, and we expect to be back to normal seasonal production no later than the third week of January 2011. Our Arbella pasta production is unaffected by this fire.”

“Our staff on the ground is working diligently with the investigators to pull together the full details of the extent of the damage and our losses. Undoubtedly, the fire will have some impact on our business in Turkey in the short term, but we are confident that we will return to normal production and business as usual relatively shortly. In the interim, we will do our best to minimize impact on our global operations with product available from our other origins to fill shipments, if needed. Additional storage and warehousing is also available from third parties if needed in the interim,” said Huseyin Arslan, executive chairman of the board of directors for AGTI and president of the Arbel Group.