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Fire destroys two businesses in Parkers Prairie, Minn.

Fire destroyed two businesses in Parkers Prairie early Saturday morning. (Photo contributed by Heidi Ratajesak)1 / 2
Unique Auto Body's roof collapsed in Saturday's fire. (Photo contributed by Heidi Ratajesak)2 / 2

Lightning is believed to have caused a fire early Saturday morning that destroyed two businesses in Parkers Prairie.

Todd Quick, owner of NAPA Auto Parts, was one of the Parkers Prairie firefighters who was paged to the scene at about 12:45 a.m., and it turned out to be his own business that was in flames.

"It was the worst scenario," he said.

Both the NAPA store and an adjoining business in the 8,000-square-foot building, Unique Auto Body, owned by Jacob Eggert, were destroyed in the blaze. A few vehicles, including a Cutlass convertible and a Jet Ski, were also lost, said Quick.

When firefighters arrived, they saw fire and smoke coming from an inside wall of the body shop, said Parkers Prairie Fire Chief Jeff Arnold. Although a fire marshal is continuing to investigate, lightning is the suspected cause of the fire, Arnold said.

Because of gusting south winds, the firefighters didn't want to open up the building but the flames still spread quickly through the structure, which has undergone several additions and uses over the years.

"My own personal feeling is that the fire was in the walls and got up into the false ceilings," Arnold said.

Twenty-three of the department's 25 members responded to the fire call.

Fire departments in Miltona and Henning were also called in, along with the Alexandria Fire Department and its aerial ladder, which firefighters used to douse the flames from above. Before long, however, lightning made that too dangerous, Arnold said.

An ambulance was on stand-by at the scene but there were no injuries, Arnold said.

Quick roughly estimated the damage of both businesses, which were fully stocked, at about $600,000. The building was insured and Quick said both businesses will rebuild.

"We've put so much time and energy into our businesses, we can't walk away now," he said.

Firefighters were on the scene until about 7 a.m. They were called back to handle flare-ups at 9:30 a.m., and again that evening.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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