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Charred remains a daily reminder of Atwater fire

Rubble and charred beams are piled outside a block of buildings on Atlantic Avenue in Atwater that were destroyed by a devastating fire. The cause of the blaze remains under investigation. Tribune photo by Carolyn Lange

ATWATER -- Blackened bricks, heaps of rubble and gaping holes where windows used to be are a constant reminder of a devastating fire Feb. 28 that destroyed nearly a block-long section of Atwater's business district.

There is no official word on the cause of the fire, and cleanup of the aftermath has not yet begun.

Atwater city officials had hoped the remaining walls of the three buildings would have been knocked down by now.

Some of the walls are leaning, bricks litter the sidewalk and a section of the street has been closed off since the fire.

With just a few orange cones and fluttering yellow police tape to mark the perimeter of the site on Atlantic Avenue, there's nothing to keep people, including children, out of the mess and potential danger zone.

The city is concerned the site isn't safe, said City Clerk Goldie Smith, who said she's seen kids "goofing around" the charred and mangled debris.

The owners of the three buildings have agreed on a contractor for the demolition, but Smith said the contractor is waiting for the insurance companies to give the go-ahead.

Meanwhile, the cause of the fire is still undetermined.

"It's being actively investigated," said State Fire Marshal John Steinbach, of New London.

Steinbach said he's waiting for additional information before issuing a statement about the fire in the next week or two.

The Phat Pheasant Pasta & Brew, Peterson's Hardware Store and the Holm Brothers Plumbing & Heating/Rice Lake Construction Group building, which also housed Stickerboy Signs & Designs, were all destroyed in the fire.

At this time, only Stickerboy Signs & Designs has resumed business operations.

Carolyn Lange

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

(320) 894-9750