GARNER, N.C. — Three ConAgra Foods, Inc. employees were killed after a roof at the company’s Slim Jim meat plant in Garner collapsed following a mid-morning explosion on Tuesday. An additional 38 employees were injured in the blast, including four with critical burns covering between 40% and 60% of their bodies, officials said. Three firefighters also were taken to the hospital to be treated for inhaling ammonia fumes.

"Our deepest sympathies are with the three victims and their families," said Gary Rodkin, chief executive officer of ConAgra Foods. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to them. ConAgra Foods will continue to provide our people with support and counseling assistance, and will continue to support local authorities in identifying the cause of this accident. We appreciate all of the efforts by everyone in the Garner area who has assisted us over the past 24 hours."

ConAgra has established a fund for contributions for the facility’s employees at

The plant is the only facility in the nation to produce Slim Jim meat products, and employs about 900 people covering four shifts. Three hundred people were said to be in the facility at the time of the explosion.

ConAgra acquired the facility in 1998 as part of its purchase of GoodMark Foods.