Safeway fire in north Phoenix deals blow to the community

Posted: Updated:
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

A steady stream of cars and people flowed through the parking lot at the corner of 35th and Northern avenues as the community mourned the loss of their local grocery store. 

"I"ve been coming to this store since I was young," said Cornealous Williams. "To see it up in flames like this, it's like wow." 

[SLIDESHOW: Massive fire rips through west Phoenix Safeway]

With embers still smoldering, firefighters continued to douse the flames. 

Passerby parked in the lot and got out of their cars to watch. 

[READ MORE: 'It was like a haboob': Huge fire rips through Safeway in west Phoenix]

"We just wanted to see the loss," said Tehanh Smith. "We're just really devastated about it." 

Neighbors say this Safeway was more than just a store. 

"You get to know a lot of the workers, just a lot of familiar faces," said Kenny Nahkala. 

[VIDEO: Phoenix Safeway grocery store gutted by ginormous 3-alarm fire]

Some of those employees tearfully reunited in the parking lot, outside the building that could have taken their lives. 

Safeway says its workers will be moved to other stores and that employees will be paid during their transition. 

"We really wasted no time in getting and servicing our employees," said Nancy Keane, a spokeswoman for Safeway and Albertsons. 

[RAW VIDEO: Safeway sign collapses during massive fire at west Phoenix store]

It's unclear if Safeway will rebuild at the site of the old store. 

Many say that the fire dealt a big blow to the neighborhood. 

"There's not a lot of other grocery stores close to this location. I know a lot of people in the neighborhood walk here," said Gary Rundle. "I'm gonna miss it."

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.