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New Brunswickers plan fundraisers for Covered Bridge chip brand after fire

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It’s a loss that’s still reverberating three days later, but the show of support after the Covered Bridge Potato Chips factory was destroyed by fire Friday evening is strong in both the community and across the region.

The fire flattened the popular tourist destination that employs over 100 people along the potato belt near Hartland, N.B.

The Office of the Fire Marshal said in a statement to CTV Atlantic that the investigation is still in the early stages.

Hartland’s deputy mayor says the town has been meeting to talk about ways it can help both the owners and employees.

“It's really heart wrenching to see what's left of what was a thriving business,” said Stewart Fairgrieve. “I'm thankful that all the employees that were in the building at the time got out safely, and now I think the community is turning their heads to what they can do to help rebuild.”

The Covered Bridge Chip logo with hearts is posted all over social media, with words of support by Maritime and Canadian companies.

“We know the inventors of Storm Chips will also weather this storm and be back stronger than ever,” New Brunswick bakery giant Mrs. Dunster’s said in a social media post. “When they do we will line up to buy their chips.”

Fans of the brand are buying up the chips that are left on shelves. Stephen Cail posted a photo of 14 bags of the chips on his windowsill, telling CTV News he had to ask the gas station for a garbage bag to take his haul home.

Fundraisers for employees planned

On Monday, management at Woodstock Toyota announced $100 from every vehicle bought in March and April will go towards a fund planned for the employees who temporarily lost their jobs.

General manager Jason Hagerman said that should amount to about 120 vehicles.

“I know that if the same thing happened to us, I know for a fact that there would be other businesses and people around that would jump in and help,” he said.

The dealership is also buying 800 bags of the chips to give to their customers, saying the owners of Covered Bridge chips would do the same for them.

“I think it's important in a smaller community or in a community to help as many as we can in these times for sure,” he said.

Woodstock Wesleyan has planned a benefit breakfast Saturday morning, from 8 until 11, or until all the supplies are gone.

Associate Pastor Neil Horner says businesses and individuals have stepped up so much, the church hasn’t had to buy a single item.

He says it’s important to ensure the employees know they’re supported during this time.

“People are experiencing hard times before this ever happened. And I think a lot of people are just struggling to get by. Paycheque to paycheque,” he said. “And while these people wait for things like EI to kick in or whatever their next plan is, I'm sure they're scrambling…we can do something.”

Post-secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister, Greg Turner said in an emailed statement that there will be a jobs event planned in the community “in the immediate future.”

“This event will provide assistance to the employees who may require income supports from the Federal government as well as the support of WorkingNB's employment counsellors,” he said.

Turner also said WorkingNB will provide free counselling services to the employees “who may be struggling to cope with this sudden event.”

Lots hoping the creators of the “Storm Chip” feel the warmth as they navigate this unexpected setback.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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