Business & Real Estate

Sacramento Amazon center reopens one week after Camp Fire smoke led to closure

Watch robots move packages at Amazon’s Sacramento facility

The robots allow the 855,000 square-foot center at Metro Air Park to store 50 percent more goods and ship goods faster than a facility without robots. The facility opened August 2017.
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The robots allow the 855,000 square-foot center at Metro Air Park to store 50 percent more goods and ship goods faster than a facility without robots. The facility opened August 2017.

Following a weeklong closure brought on by horrible air quality in the area, Amazon’s fulfillment and warehousing center at Sacramento International Airport has reopened, an Amazon spokesperson confirmed.

The center went back online Saturday evening, according to an automated phone line giving status updates to its more than 2,000 employees. Amazon spokeswoman Lauren Lynch confirmed Monday in an email that the building has reopened.

Workers were evacuated from the fulfillment center about 3 p.m. Nov. 11, as smoke from the devastating Camp Fire still burning in Butte County made its way to the region, Lynch and a warehouse employee told The Bee last week. The air quality conditions at the center were poor enough to prompt lead management at the site to close the building as a safety precaution and keep it closed.

Employees of the center were then notified on a day-by-day, shift-by-shift basis whether they were expected to report to work.

A voice message under the “weather update” section of the employee phone line, which is publicly accessible, announced that the building reopened for Saturday’s night shift, one week after it had been shuttered.

“We are happy to announce that it is safe for us to reopen the building on Saturday, Nov. 17, for night shift,“ the automated message says. “As safety is our No. 1 priority, all building and environmental air quality inspections have been inspected and SMF1 is now safe to work.”

Night shift begins either 6 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. depending on employee role, vendor returns worker Dewiece Sweitzer said.

Lynch said last week that associates’ pay would not be impacted by the site closure. Leaders at individual sites determine whether a building will be temporarily closed, Lynch explained.

Reports by Sacramento-area users indicated some delay times for receipt of Amazon packages. Some employees at the center posted publicly on social media to suggest delays were probable.

Warnings are supposed to be given by Amazon in advance — via text, email or in the ordering process — when package delays are expected, Lynch said. A sample order placed with two-day shipping last Monday predicted a delivery date of Wednesday, showing an expected delay of one day.

Lynch did not speculate why air quality might have become so poor inside the fulfillment center, but she told The Bee last Monday that it was not due to any malfunction or problem at the facility, which was newly built in 2017.

Poor air quality in Sacramento peaked at the end of last week. Thursday was the second-worst air quality day ever recorded by modern Air Quality Index standards (2003 or later) in the Sacramento region, according to air quality data measured by Spare the Air.

Aggregate AQI of 314 in the area Thursday was exceeded only on Sept. 21, 2014, eight days after a major wildfire in El Dorado County.

AQI in Sacramento decreased to 205 on Saturday and 189 by Sunday.

Amazon operates 17 fulfillment and warehousing centers in California.

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