2023 Connecticut Egg Production Plant Fire Rumors

On January 29 2023, right-wing Twitter personality and longtime disinformation purveyor Elijah Schaffer tweeted a video which tied together two popular narratives by purportedly depicting “one of the largest egg production plants” burning down in the middle of a “national egg shortage”:

In late December 2022 and early January 2023, eggs (and the rising cost of eggs) remained at the top of the memes and discourse cycle in the United States. In a similar vein, we published a fact check in June 2022 in response to a then-viral, egg-centric conspiracy theory about “food factory fires“:

Fact Check

Claim: Video depicts “one of the largest egg production plants burn[ing] down during a national egg shortage.”

Description: A viral tweet on January 29, 2023, alleged that one of the largest egg production plants burned down during a national egg shortage.

Rating: Decontextualized

Rating Explanation: While a fire at Hillandale Farms in Bozrah, Connecticut did occur in which approximately 100,000 hens died, officials noted that the effect on egg prices is anticipated to be minimal. It’s also important to note that fires in agricultural facilities are common due to the flammability of food.

In that respect, the viral January 29 2023 tweet about an “egg production plant fire” tied in to both narratives as well as playing into ongoing, broader concerns about shortages, supply chains, inflation, and groceries. However, the tweet referenced a purportedly novel and recent event — a fire.

Google Trends data demonstrated significant search interest possibly generated by the tweet. In the seven-day period ending January 30 2023, search terms with breakout popularity included “egg farm fire Connecticut,” “Bozrah egg farm,” “egg farm Bozrah fire,” “fire at egg farm,” “CT egg farm fire,” “egg production plant,” “egg production plant fire 2023,” and “eggplant fire.”

Schaffer’s Twitter video appeared to originate with a January 28 2023 tweet by Joshua Rodriguez. Rodriguez’s tweet provided more specific detail about the clip, indicating it showed a fire at a facility called “Hillendale [sic] Farms” in the state of Connecticut:

Google News filed several news stories under the headers “Hillandale Farms” and “fire, Chickens, and Bozrah.” On January 28 2023, WFSB published “About 100,000 hens die in Bozrah egg farm fire,” reporting:

Crews battled a massive 3-alarm fire at an egg farm in Bozrah [on January 28 2023].

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture said about 100,000 egg-laying hens were killed.

Officials said the fire was at Hillandale Farms on Schwartz Road on Saturday [January 28 2023].

Rebecca Murphy of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture told WFSB that the “anticipated potential impact on egg prices due to this incident is minimal to none at this time.” A January 30 2023 article from WVIT reiterated that “approximately 100,000 egg-laying hens died in the fire,” adding that the “cause of the fire remain[ed] under investigation.”

The viral tweet implied that the timing of the blaze (during an “egg shortage“) was unusual, but Google News included a very brief local news article about a separate 2019 fire at an egg farm in Bozrah, Connecticut. Additional searching led to a remarkably similar 1989 New York Times article about a Bozrah egg farm fire:

A fire at the largest egg farm in the state destroyed 216,000 chickens and caused $3 million to $4 million in damages, the authorities said [in April 1989].

The fire, at the Koskoff Egg Farm, broke out before midnight [on April 25 1989] in one of the 13 coops, and the manager tried to put it out before calling firefighters, Fire Marshal Scott Schuett said. The fire spread to a second coop. ”We focused on trying to salvage the complex,” Mr. Schuett said. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

As we noted in our June 2022 “food factory fires” page, fires in agricultural facilities are extraordinarily common:

As of 2017, the USDA [had] counted nearly 36,500 food processing facilities across the United States, or an average of 728 per state. Applying the same figure cited in the tweet, the mysterious 19 food factory fires (at least one of which had almost no impact) represented a not-so-alarming .052 percent of all food processing plants in the country.

… In 2019, the number of fires at all manufacturing or processing plants in the country topped 5,300—nearly 15 a day. Additionally, more than 2,000 fires occurred in agricultural, grain and livestock, and refrigerated storage facilities, which could all include food processing operations.

A viral January 29 2023 tweet pondered how “one of the largest egg production plants burn[ed] down during a national egg shortage.” On January 28 2023, a blaze at a Hillandale Farms facility in Bozrah, Connecticut killed an estimated 100,000 hens — but officials emphasized that the anticipated effects on already-high egg prices were “minimal to none at this time.” Egg prices and “food factory fires” were the subject of existing rumors at the time of the fire, and food processing facilities were uniquely susceptible to fire, due in part to the flammability of food itself.