WELCH — The only grocery store serving the rural Craig County communities of Welch and Bluejacket was destroyed by fire Tuesday night.
The Welch Grocery Store, built in 1985, has been owned by Kyle Fritz since 2009.
Welch has a population of 619, and Bluejacket has a population of 339.
Fritz said the fire was reported about 8:30 p.m., about 20 minutes after he left for the night. It took firefighters more than eight hours to extinguish the blaze in the 8,000-square-foot store.
“The fire happened pretty quick,” Fritz said.
“The building is destroyed,” he said. “Some of the metal frame is still standing, but the inside is gone.”
Money and receipts from Tuesday's business were in a bag at the front of the store, he said.
“The money was still in the bag,” Fritz said. “It was all covered with soot.”
Bluejacket lost its only convenience store about two months ago.
“The closest grocery store is in Vinita or Miami, and that's 15 miles either way,” Fritz said.
He plans to rebuild the store, which should take almost a year to complete, he said.
The state fire marshal was on the scene Thursday and an insurance adjuster will be out on Friday, Fritz said.