SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - What some describe as a longtime ‘community hub’ in the tight-knit town of Campti is gone.
Huge flames gutted that family-owned grocery store .. shortly after 10:30 Sunday night in that north Natchitoches Parish community 60 miles southeast of Shreveport.
All day long there was been a steady stream of residents here in the town of Campti who have their own stop here to see for themselves the severe fire damage to this local, unofficial landmark.
Visitors to this scorched wreckage were not alone in their shock.
Longtime employee Charlotte Reliford isn't sure what to do next.
"Everybody, they come out of Coushatta, Natchitoches, they come (from) everywhere out here. They love M&M's. The meat, ew, the meat, everything. The people they love everybody."
Ashley Rodrigue, the spokeswoman for the Louisiana Fire Marshal's Office told us that it all began not long after a heater was turned on in the house behind the store, after closing.
That's when the 3 men inside smell smoke and quickly escaped. That included Ali Nassar, an M&M Grocery employee and relative of the owner.
Nassar recalled, "Yeah, it was last night and we was smelling the fire and my little son came and knocked on me and I came out.
Rodrigue told us that one of the 3 men who got out of the house feared another family member was inside, so he broke a window to check only to find no one, while also needing stitches from all the broken glass that cut his hand.
As for customers, we met Austin Settle, who said he just found out about the fire as he pulled up in his truck minutes before we met him.
"Like wow, this old store's been here forever, you know. And it just, it's crazy to see that it ain't up and running no more."
Settle added that it's easy to get emotionally attached to a place like this that's always been in your life.
"Yes. Yes it is. It's been a store here for as long as I was a little kid, you know. We used to come up here as little kids and get candy bars and all that stuff."
While the owner said the insurance adjusters were not expected until Tuesday, he and his family already plan to quote, “rebuild ASAP with a new building.”