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Substantial economic impact expected from Georgia-Pacific plant explosion

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Posted at 11:14 AM, May 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-14 16:03:08-04

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — The residents of Muskogee are reacting Tuesday to the Georgia-Pacific plant explosion, which caused significant damage at the paper plant, one of Muskogee's largest employers.

Many residents had family members who were working inside the building that caught on fire. We spoke with a few who said they're shaken up by the incident, and at this time, they don't know when they'll be able to come back to work.

“There’s going to be a lot of people wondering how they’re going to make their next paycheck right now," said Nick Gauntt, a Muskogee resident. “There’ll be a lot of people without of work."

RELATED: Some Georgia-Pacific employees at work today after explosion

Georgia-Pacific is the fourth-largest employer in Muskogee and the largest manufacturer, with about 800 workers. The Chamber of Commerce says if you count all the subcontractors with the company, there are about 3,000 workers.

We talked with a former GP employee who said he worked at the plant for about 35 years. He remembers that safety was always a top priority, and they had constant drills.

“We practiced that all the time how to get out of there. There had been instances in my career out there we evacuated several times, we practiced it. They’re good about it,” said Scott Wiseley.

While it's still unclear what will happen to the workers affected by the fire, many are counting their blessings that it wasn't much worse.

Officials with the Chamber of Commerce believe the secondary effects of the explosion will be substantial. According to a GP spokesperson, the estimated economic impact each year is $250 million, based on the damage.

The company is the 45th largest manufacturer in Oklahoma.

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