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Update: Loss of Atwater businesses and buildings could total $1.5 million

Atwater Fire Chief Gerald Schwartz looks Monday morning at the three Atwater buildings destroyed in an early-morning fire on Atlantic Avenue. Schwartz said the fire started in the Phat Pheasant Pasta & Brew. Photo by Carolyn Lange

Update 1 p.m.

ATWATER - A demolition crew is on stand-by in Atwater waiting for word to topple the remaining brick walls of three main street buildings that were gutted in an early-morning fire today.

Atwater Fire Chief Gerald Schwartz said the unstable walls could pose a public safety concern.

The buildings on Atlantic Avenue housed Peterson Hardware, Phat Pheasant Pasta & Brew, Stickerboy Signs and Designs and Holm Brothers Plumbing & Heating/Rice Lake Construction Group.

The loss is estimated a $1 million to $1.5 million, said Schwartz.

There were no injuries to fire crews who fought the fire in sub-zero temperatures.

The fire was reported at 12:45 a.m. Crews are still at the scene putting out hot spots.

The loss of four vibrant businesses housed in three buildings is a big blow to the small town.

"All three structures are a complete loss," said Atwater Police Chief Reed Schmidt. "Everything is gone. Everything is destroyed."

Schmidt said the owners of the four 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.

It's believed the fire started at Phat Pheasant, but it's too early to determine how the fire started.

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.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750