Business & Real Estate

Where’s your package? Amazon’s Sacramento center still closed due to Camp Fire smoke

The Amazon fulfillment center near the Sacramento International Airport remained closed on Tuesday as air quality created by smoke from the Camp Fire posed a hazard across Northern California.

The center, which employs more than 2,000 people, has been closed since Saturday.

“We evacuated our building on Saturday because of air quality in the region,” Amazon spokeswoman Lynch said Monday. “The safety of our employees is our primary priority. We encourage them to stay home with their families.”

There is currently no timeline for reopening, Lynch said. “We’re actively monitoring and we will open the building when it’s safe and healthy to do so,” she said.

Lynch said it was not immediately clear if local deliveries would be delayed, or if other California fulfillment centers may be affected by the ongoing closure. Despite the closure, Lynch said it would be difficult to pinpoint customer impact or its causes.

Multiple Sacramento employees at the center posted on social media suggesting delays were highly likely, and there have also been some reports of Sacramentans awaiting Amazon packages or receiving delay messages from Amazon via email.

Amazon customers are supposed to be warned, usually via text, email or other opt-in notifications, when package deliveries are delayed. Delays notifications are also delivered to customers when they order.

Several sample orders placed Monday morning with two-day shipping selected showed projected delivery dates of Thursday, an apparent one-day delay.

Lynch said the location at the Sacramento Airport was the only fulfillment center affected by the wildfires as of Monday morning. Amazon operates 17 fulfillment and warehousing centers in California.

An employee who did not work over the weekend told The Bee she received an email at 3:51 a.m. Monday that said her day shift was canceled.

Dewiece Sweitzer, who works in vendor returns, said workers at the fulfillment center had to leave around 3 p.m. Saturday.

“I heard the air quality in the building was horrible,” Sweitzer said.

Sweitzer said late Monday night that her Tuesday day shift was also canceled.

Lynch would not speculate as to why air quality became so poor within the fulfillment center, while nearby Sacramento International Airport has not reported any evacuations or closures, but she said it was not due to any issue with the facility.

“There isn’t anything wrong with the building, it’s new,” Lynch said, adding that site leaders make the determination of whether to temporarily close a site.

Though the evacuation happened mid-shift, Lynch called efforts to protect workers from smoke conditions a proactive one, “based on a number of contributing factors.”

Lynch said it is customary for Amazon to pay its associates during site closures, and that their pay would not be impacted.

“When we evacuate buildings, we pay people for the whole shift,” Lynch said.

Sweitzer said it was not clear as of about 9:30 a.m. Monday whether she was being paid for that day’s canceled shift.

According to Amazon’s website, the company has partnered with the American Red Cross to gather donations toward those affected by California’s wildfires.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee