As fire officials continue to investigate a fire and explosion that ravaged storage facilities at Greenberg Smoked Turkeys Inc. and left thousands of devoted customers without their first choice for a Thanksgiving bird, the community has stepped up to express a unified message of love, gratitude and support for the Greenberg family.

Though they say their holidays simply won’t be the same without a hickory-smoked turkey at the center of the table, their hearts are with the Greenbergs as they assess the extensive damages and look to rebuild following Friday’s chaotic tragedy.

“Prayers for the Greenberg family and their employees,” Jessica Holloway said on Facebook. “Our hearts hurt for how badly this will impact the Greenberg community. We look forward to our turkey next year!”

Her comment is one among thousands attached to an image of Sam Greenberg, third-generation owner of the famed turkey distributor, that was posted to the company’s Facebook page on Sunday.

In the photo, Greenberg is pictured looking out over a charred and blackened interior full of rubble and crumbling storage pallets.

He hadn’t taken long to arrive on scene after nearby residents reported hearing – and feeling – an earth-shaking boom around 8:30 p.m. Friday. They looked out their windows to see plumes of black smoke billowing out of the 221 McMurrey Drive address, dialed 911, and watched as responders rushed to the scene.

For much of the night, and into the next day, firefighters remained at the facility to knock down the flames and secure the location. Greenberg and his family surveyed the damage from a safe distance all the while.

He wasn’t willing to talk about the incident with the media then, and hasn’t been reached for comment in the time since, either. But in a statement released with his photograph Sunday evening, Greenberg said all orders set to be delivered after Nov. 6 will be refunded because of the fire in the shipping facility.

Each holiday season, the Greenbergs typically sell around 200,000 turkeys to local families, far-away fans and even some celebrities, like Oprah (the company was named to her annual list of favorite things in 2017). But this year, in a matter of moments, things drastically changed.

“Both our inventory and our ability to ship this season have been destroyed,” Greenberg said. “We are thankful this occurred after hours and no one was injured!”

He said the company is in the process of rebuilding and plans to be stronger than ever in 2021.

“We are grateful to have the best customers in the world, and are proud to have been a part of your holiday tradition for so many years,” Greenberg continued. “Please invite us back to your table next year!”

About 1,500 comments were made on that Facebook post, with many people saying they didn’t want a refund out of concern for their beloved turkey company.

Gina Jones, of Tyler, is among the many loyal customers calling the events at Greenberg “devastating” and showing appreciation to the company that has provided for Thanksgiving dinner for decades.

“In a year full of uncertainty something like this can make one lose hope,” Jones said. “This is when people really need to come together and help one another.”

Jones said this year’s turkey would be her second from Greenberg Smoked Turkey. And as much as she was looking forward it, Jones doesn’t want a refund because of her appreciation of the company.

“Last year, we all loved it so much we’ve been looking forward to the next one all year,” she said. “It won’t break me or my family financially to not receive a refund so it’s a no brainer, this is a terrible thing that has happened to them and hopefully not having to refund every sale may make things a bit easier for them.”

In the comments of Greenberg’s Facebook post, Jones suggested setting up a GoFundMe to help Greenberg with the loss in sales.

“Many people commented on Facebook that insurance would cover their losses, but I wondered about the loss of sales this week and next,” she said. “I doubted insurance would cover that. Surely there will be unseen costs associated with rebuilding. A GoFundMe account may help them to rebuild faster and feel the love East Texas has for them.”

Jones said the Greenberg family makes a great product, and she’s loved their service since learning they provide bulk mail service during their off-season.

“They are always wonderful to work with and I’m happy I can support them the other 11 months of the year,” she said.

Tyler Fire Marshal Paul Findley said fire officials continue to gather interviews and evidence as they work to determine a cause for the fire, but that the investigation will prove a “lengthy, lengthy process” because of the nature of the event.

In the meantime, thousands of Greenberg Smoked Turkeys fans say the latest event is just one more reason they “can’t wait for 2021.”

And to the Greenbergs, they continue to send their thanks and love.

Managing Editor

Jessica Dillon, a 2017 graduate of the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University, came to Tyler in the summer of 2020. She has received a number of state awards for her agriculture, breaking news and community service reporting.

Reporter

I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.

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