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Fire-damaged business in Zumbrota eyes August reopening

Steve Groth, owner of ATI Services in Zumbrota, looks through his shop after a May 24 fire.

ZUMBROTA — Questions remain about insurance payments and criminal charges regarding the May 24 fire that caused $1.2 million in damage at Agri-Tech Industrial Services , but owner Steve Groth says he's planning on reopening the Zumbrota business this fall.

"I hope to be up and running by the end of August," Groth said. "That's my goal."

The Minnesota State Fire Marshal's Office continues to investigate the blaze, which destroyed six vehicles and equipment and damaged multiple buildings. A preliminary report released last month by the Zumbrota Police Department said illegal fireworks caused the blaze. No one was hurt.

Multiple suspects have been identified and interviewed by authorities, but no one is in custody. The Fire Marshal's final report — which a department spokeswoman said Wednesday is not yet ready — will be forwarded to the Goodhue County Attorney's Office to determine if criminal charges are warranted.

Two of the suspects — young men from the area — recently approached Groth directly to apologize for their role in the fire. Groth said he was "so impressed with those young lads (for) taking responsibility" that he's decided not to pursue a civil lawsuit.


That means the insurance company figures to be a major player the rest of the way. It could decide to file civil charges against the suspects in order to recoup funds dispersed to Groth, who has yet to receive any payments or be allowed to start repairs.

Groth met with an attorney Wednesday in hopes of expediting the insurance process. He hopes to start renovation next week to create a "better layout" for the company he created in 1982.

The actual dollars for repairs will be tight. ATI was woefully underinsured, Groth said. He expects to receive less than half of the $1.2 million in damages ATI sustained in the fire.

Despite all of that uncertainty — including a business that is unable to function in its current state — Groth said he continues to make payroll without laying anyone off. He hopes to celebrate ATI Service's grand reopening around Labor Day.

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