Future uncertain for 
Piedmont grocery store 

Piedmont residents and officials were shocked over the loss of their Piggly Wiggly grocery store which burned to the ground during an early morning fire on Sunday.

ATF and arson investigators combed the debris  Monday  for clues to the blaze that left the store in the Piedmont Plaza on Hwy. 86 burned out from wall to wall.

As of Wednesday, Piedmont fire officials did not have word on the cause of the blaze that left the community’s only grocery store a heap of burnt and twisted metal.

Officials said it may be weeks before their report on the possible cause of the fire is released.

“It’s a tragedy,” Freddie Sullens, District Manager for Piggly Wiggly said Tuesday. “We want the people of Piedmont to know how much Piggly Wiggly appreciated the response when we came. It is a loss for the community and for Piggly Wiggly too,” Sullens said.

Sullens praised Piedmont firefighters for their efforts in fighting the blaze.

“They really did a good job. They did all they could do and then some,” Sullens said. “They have really earned our respect.”

Piedmont Fire Chief Butch Nichols said firefighters received the call at approximately 1 a.m. Sunday morning. By the time they arrived the building was fully engulfed with flames beginning to come through the roof.

Two Piedmont firefighters were sent to the hospital and later released after being blown by an explosion,  from the front of the building along with a third firefighter.

Nichols said the firefighters were backing out of the burning interior of the building when the explosion occurred. The roof collapsed shortly thereafter, according to Nichols.

Firefighters from Wren, South Greenville, West Pelzer, Powdersville and Gantt Fire Departments responded to the blaze. A ladder truck was also brought in by Gantt Fire Department to help bring the blaze under control.

The fire was contained in less than two hours, but there was not much left of the grocery store other than a few soft drink cans left stacked near what was the entrance of the store.

A track hoe was brought in Sunday to remove debris and allow firefighters to douse hot spots.

Sullens said the chain hasn’t lost a store to fire since the 1960’s. The nearest Piggly Wiggly store is located in Ware Shoals and Greenwood, he said.

Sullens said company officials had not met to discuss plans for rebuilding the store but did say that the building landlord, Jimmy Wilson, had indicated that he was anxious to get started.

“It was a nice store, serving a nice community,” he said.

The store employed 25-30 people and has served as Piedmont’s only grocery store. The building was constructed in 1979 with Community Cash grocery store being the anchor tenant in the shopping plaza.

“It was the only store in Piedmont,” Chief Nichols said. “It was highly used by senior citizens. Hopefuly they will rebuild and put a supermarket back in the community.”

 

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