Fire devastates New Brunswick chip factory

Covered Bridge Potato Chips factory burns down

On March 2, 2024, Covered Bridge Potato Chips factory was engulfed in flames. Thankfully, all of the 20 to 30 employees working at the plant made it out safely. However, the damages were irreparable. Environment Canada issued an air quality warning for the surrounding communities due to the elevated pollution levels. While it is unknown at this time what initiated the fire, many speculate it was caused by a fryer used to cook the chips. Fire marshals will continue to investigate the fire to determine the exact cause. 

Gabriel Theriault – Argosy Illustrator

On Friday night around 5:45 p.m, 12 fire departments were dispatched to tackle the massive fire. Ultimately, the building could not be salvaged and collapsed soon after. In a statement from CEO Matthew Albright, he expressed his gratitude to the first responders for their courage for ensuring the safety of the employees, and for the kind messages of support he received from the community. CEO Ryan Albright, announced that they will rebuild the factory as soon as possible, stating that they are still figuring out logistics like equipment and layout of the rebuild. 

The Covered Bridge Potato Chip Company, founded by brothers Ryan and Matthew Albright in 2009, has deep ties to the Hartland community. The Albrights were farmers in Hartland for generations, and they continue to bestow these family values in their company, emphasizing their roots. They source local potatoes grown at the Albright farm to make kettle cooked chips, which are then distributed across North America. Most notably, they became popular for their “storm chips” in the Maritimes. Their sole production plant was in Hartland and it became a popular tourist destination. Visitors could come in and take a tour of the factory to learn more about farming in New Brunswick, the history of potato chips, and the production process. Then, tourists got to try out the different flavours they have, which was usually their favourite part.  

I had the privilege of working in the Covered Bridge Potato Chip Gift Shop this summer and the best part — besides all of the samples  — was undoubtedly the people. Both the staff and the tourists that came in every day truly made my job enjoyable. When I first heard of the fire, I was shocked that the place where I spent most of my summer making memories was gone. 

Furthermore, as a testament to Carleton County Spirit, the community has started fundraising for people who lost their jobs due to the fire. The company is one of the largest employers in the region, with around 175 employees. The Covered Bridge Potato Chips logo has been circulating on social media with people demonstrating their support. The Woodstock Wesleyan Church is hosting a benefit breakfast where all donations will go to support people who lost their jobs. Also, Woodstock Toyota announced that for every vehicle bought in March and April, 100 dollars will go to Covered Bridge employees. The company is also looking for temporary positions for the now unemployed. Thanks to the outpour of support from the community, the chip company is able to navigate through this difficult period. 

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