WEST READING, PA. — The bodies of all seven missing victims have been accounted for after a March 24 explosion at an R.M. Palmer Co. candy factory in West Reading, Samantha Kaag, mayor of West Reading, said in a March 26 Facebook post.
“The investigation efforts will now be underway, and we can find answers to how this happened and how/if we can prevent it from happening in the future,” she said.
The company has more than 800 employees and offers over 500 products, including seasonal favorites such as Mummy Munchies for Halloween, Frosty the Snowman novelties for Christmas and chocolate hearts for Valentine’s Day.
“Everyone at R.M. Palmer is devastated by the tragic events at one of our West Reading facilities, and we are focused on supporting our employees and their families,” the R.M. Palmer Co. said. “We have lost close friends and colleagues, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all who have been impacted. We are sincerely grateful for the extraordinary efforts of all of the first responders and for the support of our Reading community, which has been home to our business for more than 70 years.”
The company’s email, phones and other communication systems were down, making it difficult to contact employees and their families.
“Therefore, we are relying currently on first responders and disaster recovery organizations to provide any available information to impacted families,” the R.M. Palmer Co. said. “We will be providing additional information and making contact with employees, impacted families and the community as soon as possible.”
The names of the seven victims will not be announced until their families have been contacted, Ms. Kaag said.Richard Palmer Sr. founded the company in 1948 by purchasing used equipment and renting a warehouse in Sinking Spring, Pa. The R.M. Palmer Co. relocated to Reading, Pa., in 1950 and then to its current location at 77 South Second Ave. in West Reading in 1950. Richard M. Palmer Jr. took over as the company’s president and chairman of the board in 1979. The National Confectionery Sales Association (NCSA) inducted him into its Candy Hall of Fame in 1991.