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Fire Damages Several Buildings In Downtown Madelia

MADELIA, Minn. (WCCO) — A small town is picking up the pieces today after a large fire ripped through downtown Madelia early Wednesday morning.

The fire destroyed a handful of businesses, leaving a gaping hole in their southwestern Minnesota town's central area. It was a fire that was tough to fight because of the snow and blizzard conditions in the area, as firefighters had a hard time just getting to the scene.

Merle Johnson lives a block away from dowtown Madelia.

"I thought it was going to take that whole works down -- that whole north side," he said.

He woke up at 4 a.m. and did a double-take when he saw the scene outside his window.

"The flames were red hot," he said. "They must've been 40 or 50 feet in the air."

Firefighters got the call just after 2 a.m. An explosion shortly after blew out windows across Main Street. Aid from several neighboring cities arrived on the scene later, after struggling through the blizzard conditions that forced authorities to shut down state highways and I-90 throughout the southwestern part of the state.

More than 100 firefighters eventually arrived on the scene, but it took about 2 hours to get the blaze under control.

"Physically, everybody's pretty good," Fire Chief Mark Denn said.

Witnesses think the fire started in a flower shop -- owned by one of the firefighters who later showed up on the scene -- and quickly spread to four other connecting businesses.

"It's sad to see something like this," Madelia resident Cindy Krueger said. "My mom is at home just because she didn't want to come down here. It's hard."

If you'd like to help, you can donate to the Madelia Disaster Relief Fund.

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