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Fire destroys Marchand grocery store

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A small southeastern Manitoba town’s only grocery store and gas station has been destroyed by fire.

Marchand Grocery, which is located on the main street of Marchand and also served as the town’s post office, went up in flames early this morning.

Alain Nadeau, fire chief for the Rural Municipality of LaBroquerie, said RCMP responded to a building alarm at about 1:30 a.m. and discovered flames shooting out of the rear of the store.

The police called the volunteer fire department, but the firefighters were unable to extinguish the blaze.

"We tried to go in, but we got caught by a big flash-over," Nadeau said. "So we went on the defensive."

He said their biggest concern was preventing the fire from spreading to the gas pumps in front of the store, or to some nearby propane tanks. He said the store owner sold propane tanks for barbeques.

He said they ended up bringing in a back hoe to tear the building apart so they could get at the flames and put out the fire. A pile of rubble was all that was left when he left the scene shortly before 11 a.m.

Although the provincial fire commissioner’s office is investigating, Nadeau said early indications are the cause of the fire may have been electrical in nature.

"They had some electrical issues the night before," he added.

Nadeau said a local resident has owned and operated the store for the last two or three years. He said area residents will now have to drive to Steinbach, which is about 20 kilometres away, or Labroquerie, which is about 13 kilometres away, to get groceries or gas.

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