Historic Grocery Store Destroyed in Florida

Nov. 12, 2008
An electrical malfunction is blamed.

SANFORD, Fla. --

History burned to the ground Wednesday morning. Ideis Grocery Store on 13th Street was a landmark in Sanford (see map). The owner told Eyewitness News he didn't even know his store caught fire until he turned on WFTV Wednesday morning.

The Fire Marshal said late Wednesday morning an electrical malfunction started the fire in the 50-year-old building. Because of its age, it wasn't required to have a sprinkler system.

AT THE SCENE: Images From The Massive Fire

The family who owns the store is from Palestine. On Wednesday morning, they watched a demolition crew tear down what they called their American dream.

The fire was too dangerous for firefighters to go inside when they arrived on the scene early Wednesday morning, so they tried to attack the fire from the outside.

"It's nothing I can do about it. I mean, what can I do about it? Nothing. Just make you cry," store owner Faruk Ideis told Eyewitness News.

A lot of people in the neighborhood ran to the scene when they heard about the fire. The Ideis family has owned the business 33 years. Another family ran it before that. People who live in the low-income community, especially the older residents, relied on it.

"A lot of people around here can't go a lot of places, Winn Dixie, different places like that. It's just convenient," eyewitness Teri Brinson said.

"I had to shed tears when I see the store go down," eyewitness Ruthie Wilson said.

The family loaded a few things onto a small pick up truck, but there was not a lot left. The roof caved in and the walls collapsed. It took at least two hours just for the smoke to clear.

"It's just a breaking heart. Just something I never expect to see in my life," Faruk Ideis said.

Unfortunately for the family and the neighborhood, they didn't have insurance. The store also employed several people in the neighborhood who are sad for the family, but also worried about where they will be able to find another job in the troubled job market.

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