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Fire destroys historic Powers Country Store in St. Helena Parish

Fire destroys historic Powers Country Store in St. Helena Parish
Updated: Jun. 26, 2018 at 3:54 PM CDT
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Aftermath of the fire at Powers Country Store (Source: WAFB)
Aftermath of the fire at Powers Country Store (Source: WAFB)
Aftermath of the fire at Powers Country Store (Source: WAFB)
Aftermath of the fire at Powers Country Store (Source: WAFB)
Powers Country Store before the fire destroyed it (Source: WAFB)
Powers Country Store before the fire destroyed it (Source: WAFB)
Frank and Ramona Powers (Source: WAFB)
Frank and Ramona Powers (Source: WAFB)

GRANGEVILLE, LA (WAFB) - An old neighborhood grocery store that has been a staple in St. Helena Parish for more than a century is gone. Powers Country Store in Grangeville was destroyed by fire Monday night.

Flames shot nearly 20 feet into the air as firefighters battled the massive blaze at Powers at around 10:30 p.m. Cell phone video taken by someone who witnessed the destruction spread quickly on social media, perhaps because the old store holds a piece of rich history. It has been open since 1896. An old, rusted sign bearing the store's name and the couple, Frank and Ramona, that started a restaurant some 60 years ago is all that remains.

Ramona Powers lives next door. She says she watched as the place she poured her heart and soul into burned to the ground. "I went to the window to look, and when I did look out, it was flames going tremendously high out the back of the store," she said.

Powers says her family sold the store several years ago when her husband died. A man named Jeff Labruzzo owns it now, but to her, it's still home. It's part of Powers history, she said. While the people who worked there would often deliver to her door, Powers says sometimes, she enjoyed taking a step back in time.

"I loved it. I really did. I loved the people coming in. I like to see everybody," Powers said.

Restaurant cook, Steve Wood, says it's one of the reasons he loved working there so much. "A lot of the same people would come in, so it gave us a chance to talk fellowship and meet new people," he said.

The future of Powers Country Store is not certain. Ramona Powers' view from her kitchen window is forever changed, but she has got a lot of memories to hold onto, and she says that's how she plans to remember it when she looks back.

"It was home. That was Grangeville, you know. It was just something you thought would always be there," Powers said.

The Louisiana Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the cause of the fire. Investigators believe it started in the kitchen. Officials say because the more than 4,000 square foot store was built of cypress and pine, firefighters weren't able to save it.

No one was injured in the incident.

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