The Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory was a large part of life in Mayfield, Kentucky. As one of the largest employers in Graves County, it helped bolster the economy of the area. Additionally, it provided jobs to hundreds of locals.
On the night of December 10, over 100 workers filed in to work the overnight shift. Before they could clock out for the weekend, a tornado ripped through the area and leveled the factory. It killed eight people and left several others missing. Some, like Autumn Kirks, were lucky enough to make it out relatively unharmed.
The employees of the Mayfield, Kentucky candle factory knew that bad weather was on the way. However, they had no idea just how bad it would get. Autumn Kirks told Fox News that the order to take cover came moments before all hell broke loose. “They said take cover. About that time, everything got really quiet. Then, it was like the building was picked up and thrown back down on top of us.”
The candle factory imploded on itself, leaving many Kentucky residents pinned under rubble. One survivor took to Facebook to broadcast their predicament in hopes of getting help. Kirks and three others found themselves trapped under a fallen wall in the hallway where they had sought shelter. Their futures looked grim. However, Graves County Jail inmates on work release and other Mayfield Consumer Products workers who were free worked to dig their co-workers out.
One of those workers came to the aid of Autumn and her three fellow workers. “We had a guy play superman. I don’t know who he was. We got to safety because of him,” Kirks recalled. “Otherwise, I feel like I would probably still be under that wall.”
Escaping the Kentucky Candle Factory Is Bittersweet for Kirks
There’s no doubt that Autumn Kirks is thanking her lucky stars as well as the unnamed hero who helped her out of the rubble. However, her escape is bittersweet. Her boyfriend, Lannis Ward was among those who perished in the candle factory collapse.
Ward and Kirks worked the night shift together. When the order came to take cover, the couple was standing about ten feet apart. Kirks glanced at her boyfriend, pulled down her protective goggles, and took cover in the hallway. After it was all over, Ward was nowhere to be found. Later, authorities added his name to the list of those Kentucky residents who never made it out of the candle factory.
That’s all Autumn Kirks really knows, though. “I don’t know where they found him,” she told the news outlet. “Nobody has given up that information.”
About her Mayfield, Kentucky community and her candle factory co-workers, Kirks said, “I believe that we’re strong. I believe that we have a strong community. It’s very apparent that everybody is coming together to help each other out.”