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Swenson Motor Co. in Willmar, Minn., waits for insurance settlement from fire

The Swenson Motor Company Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealership on Highway 12 in Willmar was severely damaged by fire one month ago. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR -- Swenson Motor Company owners Marguerite and Rollie Swenson are waiting for the insurance settlement before deciding whether to rebuild or reopen in the same location after their Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealership on U.S. Highway 12 East was severely damaged by fire one month ago.

"We're kind of in limbo,'' Marguerite Swenson said Tuesday.

The cause of the fire April 23 was undetermined, but it started on the east wall of the computer room and spread throughout the room, according to an investigation by Willmar Fire Chief Marv Calvin and the state fire marshal.

Calvin said the majority of the fire damage was in the computer room, although there was heat and smoke throughout the area; smoke throughout the building in the shop, parts area and sales area; and severe heat damage in the parts area.

Some fire got into the office area and up into the roof system.

The exterior does not appear to have been damaged. A sign on the showroom door advises no one enter the building.

The parts and service departments were closed, but the sales department was soon reopened in an 8-by-20-foot mobile office.

But the dealership suffered another setback when the mobile office was tipped over during a storm Friday, spilling and damaging office equipment.

Swenson and Sales Manager Pam Frost and said an employee had exited the mobile office just before it tipped over. No one was hurt. Nelson International of Willmar was called and sent a wrecker to set the mobile office upright.

Frost and Swenson said the dealership is still selling vehicles, and they said the body shop is still operating. They thanked their loyal customers who call and ask when they will be able to have their cars serviced.

"We appreciate all of our customers,'' they said. "They have been patient with us.''

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150