ATWATER - Three cornerstone businesses in Atwater were destroyed in a fire early this morning, delivering a crushing blow to the small town.
The Phat Pheasant Pasta & Brew, Holm Brothers Plumbing and Heating and Peterson Hardware are a total loss, according to Atwater Police Chief Reed Schmidt.
The roofs and most of the walls of the buildings collapsed in the fire that was reported at 12:45 this morning. The businesses, located on Atlantic Avenue, are connected and separated by walls.
"All three structures are a complete loss," said Schmidt."Everything is gone. Everything is destroyed."
It's believed the fire started at Phat Pheasant, but it's too early to determine how the fire started.
State Fire Marshall John Steinbach is at the scene of the fire, which is still smoking and smoldering, said Schmidt.
The blaze could be seen for several blocks as fire departments from eight different communities fought the fire.
Power was lost to about three-fourths of the community for two hours because the electrical transformer was affected by the fire, said Schmidt, adding that ash has floated across the town.
Schmidt said the owners of the businesses and the residents "are in shock" with the loss.
He said it's difficult for a small town like Atwater to maintain businesses as it is, and to lose three of them in one day is devastating.