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Articles by Emily Hofstaedter

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This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

At 5:30 p.m., December 10 of last year, they heard the unmistakable wail of tornado sirens. Some of the workers crafting cinnamon, pumpkin spice, and vanilla candles asked to go home: Western Kentucky’s Mayfield Consumer Products plant, with its vulnerable wide-span roof, was the kind of building to avoid in a storm.

Staff were first told to shelter in a hallway. But they were soon ordered back to the factory floor to finish their ten-hour shifts. Leave, managers warned, and you’re fired. The threat worked.

Just after 9 p.m., the sirens wailed again. The tornado obliterated the Mayfield plant. Eight workers died.

Mayfield’s management, according to a survivors’ class-action suit, was aware of the danger — forecasters had been predicting major tornadoes all week — and had rejected a request by floor supervisors to stop work for the day. But the firm’s other plant, just six miles away, did shut down for the storm. The difference? The first factory was working overtime to ship candles for the luc... Read more