Investigation Launched Into 3-Alarm Blaze That Killed 100,000 Chickens at Hillandale Connecticut Egg Farm

An investigation has been launched into a three-alarm fire Saturday that reportedly killed about 100,000 chickens at the Hillandale egg farm in Bozrah, Connecticut.

At least 16 firehouses and more than 100 firefighters responded to the massive blaze, reported Fox61 News.

The fire reportedly was brought under control after 4.5 hours with no human injuries.

Norwich Firefighters Local 892 was one of the crews that helped to extinguish the blaze. The firehouse posted to Facebook the scene.

The Salvation Army was also on the scene aiding firefighters. Both the charitable organization and the firefighters reportedly confirmed to Fox61 that about 100,000 chickens were killed in the fire.

However, according to Fox News, John Way, a safety officer for the Bozrah Volunteer Fire Department, said Monday he could not confirm the report that 100,000 chickens had been killed in the blaze.

Way noted the building that caught fire was about 300 to 400 feet long and two stories high, but the number of chickens housed in it was still unknown.

Hillandale Farms, whose headquarters are located in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, published the following statement Saturday on its website:

Bozrah, CT 1/28/2023: Hillandale Farms experienced a fire at our Bozrah, CT farm on Saturday, January 28th. The fire has been extinguished. Our leadership team is proactively working with fire officials to support a thorough investigation of the cause of the fire. All employees are safe. There will be no further comment at this time.

-Hillandale Farms Executive Leadership Team

The Hillandale egg farm fire in Connecticut comes as many Americans are paying unprecedented prices for eggs at the grocery store, and, in many cases, when they can find them.

In Connecticut, Patch reported a dozen of Eggland’s Best Extra Large eggs costs $9.18 at the Grade A Market in Stamford, while, in East Hartford’s ShopRite on Main Street, customers are paying $8.98 per dozen.

Hillandale states on its website the company, which was established in 1958, now “raises over 20 million chickens for eggs and is one of the top 5 egg producers in the country.”

“We handle everything about their raising and care, except hatching them,” the company adds. “We are still family-owned and operated and we still care about the safety and conditions of our birds. They get only vegetarian feed, and we’ve developed many proprietary techniques and technologies to increase their safety and comfort.”

In September, Ohio-based The Crescent-News reported Hillandale Farms in Hicksville Township, Defiance County, Ohio, was believed by the federal government to have an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) that led to the destruction of nearly four million chickens.

According to the news report:

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) declined to comment on the case earlier this month, right after issuing a press release saying that the Hillandale chickens would be “depopulated,” an apparent euphemism for euthanizing them.

The Crescent-News also noted that Hicksville resident Jennifer Caryer expressed concerns about the “depopulation” process and the HPAI flu at a meeting of the Defiance County commissioners. Caryer reportedly questioned the transparency regarding how the chickens’ carcasses were disposed of within the local environment.

“Defiance County commissioners indicated that they were informed about the issue with the Hillandale flock by the Ohio Department of Agriculture,” the report observed. “But little other information was imparted to them.”

In August 2020, New York State Attorney General Letitia James (D) filed a lawsuit against Hillandale Farms claiming the wholesale egg distributor had jacked up the prices of eggs during the COVID-19 pandemic by as much as four times their regular rates.

According to a statement from James’ office, Hillandale, which sells to major grocery chains, U.S. Military facilities, and wholesale distributors in New York, allegedly profited about $4 million off the inflated prices.

“The lawsuit alleges that Hillandale has raised its prices not because of increased costs, but simply to take advantage of higher consumer demand during the pandemic,” the press statement said.

In April 2021, James’ office announced she had “secured 1.2 million eggs that will feed New Yorkers still suffering the economic impacts of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health crisis.”

An agreement signed with Hillandale Farms resolved the corporation “will refrain from any further excessive pricing of eggs … and will donate 1.2 million eggs … to food banks located throughout New York state.”

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Susan Berry, PhD is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Image “Hillandale Egg Farm Blaze” by Norwich Firefighters Local 892.



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