IGA grocery store in Marion destroyed by fire

MARION COUNTY, SC (WMBF) -  A community is reeling Tuesday after a fire tore through what many consider the most popular store in the city of Marion.

South Main street was blocked off to traffic for several hours while crews fought the fire that completely destroyed the IGA.

Trey Cooper, Chief of the City of Marion Fire Department, says the police department responded to a burglary alarm at the store just after 3:30 a.m. When officers arrived, they found the fire through the IGA's roof.

Minutes later when the fire department arrived, the flames were shooting out of the building.

Cooper says to his knowledge, no one was inside. It took hours to put out the bulk of the flames while South Main Street shut down. Eventually a bulldozer was brought in to tear down the front of the building where the water wasn't reaching.

To the people who live nearby, the store is the pulse of the community. People were in tears because the only store in town, the store most of them have gone to their whole lives, is now ash.

One man says he has been going there for sixty years. "When I first saw that I remember the first job I ever had," reflected Tim Powell. "I was 15 years old and I was a bag boy here. In 1965."
Members of the community stopped by in a steady stream to survey the damage and reminisce about what all of them said was their favorite store. Powell says he was around when the IGA had it's 5th anniversary - in 1964.

"That's a part of history that Marion won't never forget. I mean, that IGA has taken care of a lot of people. This is going to hurt Marion. I mean, not only for the jobs and the lack of income that store  produced for Marion County, you look at the people put out of work. Look at the people that it has handicapped. Myself included. Because I, I live within walking distance. And I do a lot of my shopping right there. Or I did. Now I don't know what I'm going to do. And I'm going to miss it. I really am."

The chief says most of the firefighters out Tuesday morning were volunteers, and most of them actually went home and had to go to work after they fought the blaze. "They did an outstanding job," Cooper said. "They were here from 3:30, some of them 6, 7 'o clock, went and got a shower and went to work."

At this point there is no cause of the fire. Cooper hopes they are able to find one despite the damage to the building.

As for the people in the community, they all want to see the IGA rebuilt.

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