EAU CLAIRE — Flames destroyed a community mainstay Thursday night but not the memories.
Delisio's Market — the former Thompson's Market and before that Beatty's Market — was emblematic of the old country store in rural America.
The three-story building on Main Street, around for generations, went up in smoke and fire despite the efforts of more than 100 firefighters from nearly 20 departments in five counties.
“This is where you'd get your milk, your bread, whatever,” said Chief Dale Sellers of the Eau Claire Volunteer Fire Department. “I got penny candy here as a kid. It's been here forever.”
Though the landmark building is gone, firefighters earned high praise for saving another business, an automotive painting and detailing shop, just feet away.
“There aren't many businesses here,” said Chief Reid Campbell of the West Sunbury Volunteer Fire Department. “The town lost one but the guys save one, too.”
The fire broke out shortly after the store closed at its normal 9 p.m. time, authorities said. It didn't take long for the blaze to grow into something not seen for some time in these parts.
“It's the worst one I've been to,” said Sellers, who's been fighting fires since 1989.
It appeared the fire started in the corner of the building, possibly in the basement, where the electrical boxes and furnace were located, fire officials said.
But what ignited the blaze is not known. The state police fire marshal's office is investigating.
The extent of the damage also was not immediately known. Authorities guessed it could be $200,000 or more.
The fire was finally out around 1:30 a.m. today. There were no injuries.