VANCLEAVE, MS (WLOX) - One of the oldest locally owned grocery stores in South Mississippi caught fire Saturday night, and won't be re-opening anytime soon. Monday, fire and insurance investigators were at H. P. Davis Grocery Store on Highway 57 in Vancleave to determine an exact cause for the blaze. So far, the owners are being told electrical problems may be to blame.
Mondays are usually busy at H.P. Davis. But this week, instead of customers, teams of workers were busy cleaning up the broken glass and soggy mess left behind from a massive weekend fire.
Vancleave resident and owner Derek Tillman said his hometown grocery store is a staple in the community. The fire has shocked and saddened him, and so many others.
"As far as I know, the grocery store has been here about 61 years and it is very important. A lot of older people that come here and sign a ticket for groceries and pay on the third when they get their checks, what are they going to do?"
Customer Larry Hammond is wondering the same thing. He stopped by the store after hearing about the fire.
"It broke my heart. I do my business here and always have. They have always been great to me. It is just a part of living in Vancleave is going to H.P. Davis Grocery store and I hate that it burned," Hammond said.
So far, fire officials know the blaze began in the center of the building on the south side. They're still working on figuring out an exact cause.
"They will have to go through process of moving a bunch of stuff and looking at where the point of origin might have been. They might need to send off samples, so it may take a little bit of time," Central Jackson County Fire District Chief Michael Belton said.
The owners said the building is not a total loss, but it will take at least three months to rebuild.
"We will build it back," Tillman said.
"It is just great to be able to come to a local community store, even with all the big things," said Hammond.
The store owner said about 55 to 60 percent of the building was damaged. He also said around 15 people work for the grocery store and majority of them are local.