LIDGERWOOD, ND — A small town lost its grocery store to intense smoke damage.

At about 6 a.m. on Nov. 28, fire crews responded to a fire at Lidgerwood Market. They said the flames were small, but smoke filled the entire building. It was so thick, firefighters said they couldn’t see more than two inches in front of them.

The Lidgerwood Fire Department says the entire inside of the store is covered in soot from wall to wall. Food is burnt up, plastic containers are melted and the ceiling fans are warped. The windows are all covered in a layer of black soot so dense, you can't see through them anymore.

Firefighters determined the fire started at the main office in the northeast part of the building.

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Crews tell WDAY News, nothing is left inside.

"All the cash registers are all melted, all the groceries and everything that was in the store has all been destroyed and melted," said Brett Lambrecht, Richland County's Emergency Management Director.

John Popp owns the Popp Hardware store just one block down the road. He said the customers who shopped at Lidgerwood Market were drawn to his store, so losing their customers means he's missing out.

Popp said this loss is especially hard on the town's senior citizens who now have to drive about 20 minutes away to get food. The closest grocery stores are in Hankinson and Wahpeton.

"Been a main stay of the community," Popp described. "Without a grocery store... well, we're hurting. We have to have that grocery store."

He said the grocery store had a leaky roof for a few years. Buckets were scattered all over its floors. He heard they frequently ran into supply issues and other problems because of the leaks.

"It all goes back to the roof," Popp recalled. "If the Cheerio box gets wet, nobody wants to buy it."

The state fire marshal is investigating what caused the fire. Officials confirmed the building is insured.

Lidgerwood Fire, Lidgerwood Ambulance, Hankinson Fire and the Richland County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene.