Eight people are dead and eight are still missing after a tornado demolished the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky.
According to an exclusive report from NBC News, hours before the storm hit, at least 15 workers asked managers to leave and seek shelter at their homes. The requests were not only denied, but employees were told that they would be fired if they left.
As the storm drew closer and tornado sirens first sounded around 5:30 p.m., workers again asked management to leave but were denied. The first tornado threat passed and the danger seemingly subsided — and people went back to work.
According to NBC, despite the threats from management, some employees still left the facility. Other workers decided to stay because they were earning overtime pay during the night shift. Managers even reportedly took attendance to find out who had left the factory. According to the company, 110 people were working that night.
Around 9 p.m., the tornado siren once again sounded and workers asked to leave, but were denied. The workers hid and the building collapsed on top of them.
The company has denied the claims and referenced a new policy put in place during the pandemic that allows employees to leave anytime they want and come back the next day. A team lead supported the company's statement.
The facility, which made scented candles, is in ruins and emergency personnel are still sorting through the wreckage. The satellite footage shows a devastating scene.
In a statement, company CEO Troy Propes said the company cherishes its employees and established the MCP Candles Tornado Victims' Fund to assist employees and their families. The company said it remains committed to restoring its production facilities.
The facility, a Bath & Body Works supplier, was running continuously to meet holiday demand. In a statement, Bath & Body Works said it reached out to the factory owners in an effort to support workers and their families.