RESIDENTS of a Launceston suburb have been left devastated after fire destroyed its sole supermarket early yesterday morning.
The Tasmania Fire Service attended the blaze at the Rocherlea Supermarket on Blackwood Drive about 2am.
At the same time, members of the community flocked to the scene to support the store's owners, Penny and Bob Marshall.
Shop employee Jackie Wise said the building had not been left unattended since.
``All day we have had members of the community coming around to put their arm around Penny and comfort her,'' Mrs Wise said, who has worked at the store for eight years and lived in the suburb for 28.
The cause of the fire is being investigated by TFS and Tasmania Police.
Mrs Wise said she was suspicious about how the fire started.
``It started around here near the roller door,'' she said.
``There is no electricity or wires around this part so I think someone might have shoved a rag under the door and lit it.''
Inside, the store is a shell of its former self.
The ceiling panels have fallen to the floor, leaving exposed roof beams dripping with melted electrical cords.
Fire crews controlled the blaze before it could spread to the retail store next door.
``[Penny and Bob] have helped so many people in the community and they're well liked,'' Mrs Wise said.
``They don't deserve this but they've said they will get the shop running again.''
The community has vowed to stick by the store, with people putting up their hands to camp out in the neighbouring paddock until the building is secure.
Plans are already being developed for a working bee to help the store get back up and running.
``This shop meant a lot to the community; everyone is going to be devastated. There is a lot of use of Pay-As-You-Go Aurora power out here, a lot of elderly people and a lot of single people who don't drive - these people are now going to have to find a way into Mowbray to buy their power and anything else they need,'' Mrs Wise said.