St. Paul Pioneer Press - St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)
March 13, 2002
SHOP OWNER LOSES LIVELIHOOD AND MORE IN FIRE//BLAZE DESTROYS BUILDING, TRACTORS, 200 TROPHIES
Author: AMY SHERMAN, Pioneer Press
When a loud noise awakened Jim Kaczmarek early Tuesday , he figured it was ice sliding off the roof of his rural Dakota County home. But when he heard the noise a second time, he got out of bed to track down the source of the explosion. It was so loud it could be heard several miles away in Hastings.
He saw a disturbing sight outside: his Vermillion Township repair shop near his home was on fire. The cause of the fire, which destroyed the building, had not been determined by Tuesday afternoon. The building was insured but a damage estimate was not immediately available.
The two-story shop housed Kaczmarek's livelihood, hobby and history rolled into one. Kaczmarek opened Jim's Repair/Jim's Tractor shop out of his home garage in 1973 and moved into a larger building in 1986. He bought used garden tractors from as far away as Hawaii and fixed them up to sell. He repaired all kinds of vehicles and machinery serving farmers and others from Dakota County and beyond.
"I'm from a farming community," said Kaczmarek, who grew up on a North Dakota farm. "I like dealing with farm people. Farm people expect you to fix about everything; we did handle it all."
Kaczmarek lost some tools that were special to him because they originally belonged to his late father, a farmer, said Bonnie Kaczmarek, Jim's wife. She worked at the shop and is a part-time office worker with the Hastings School District. He also lost about 16 garden tractors -- some of which were ready to go to a tractor pull in North Dakota on Tuesday morning. About 200 trophies Kaczmarek won in tractor pulls and displayed in his shop were destroyed.
More than a dozen customers and neighbors in the sparsely populated area stopped by within hours of the fire, toting goulash, ham, pickles and cake.
"We really have some super people around here," Jim Kaczmarek said. Other shop owners have offered space to Kaczmarek, who said he might operate out of his garage.
No one was injured in the fire, which was reported at 4:19 a.m. and was under control about one hour later, said Michael Schutt, Hastings assistant fire chief. The 42-foot by 48-foot building had a metal roof and walls. Hastings called in Miesville and Rosemount fire departments to supply water.
Copyright (c) 2002 St. Paul Pioneer Press
This is a rear end or differential from a John Deere 420 that was burned in the fire.
This is how the differential should look.
We get hundreds of compliments on our new building and we are pretty happy with it too. If you've been here and like it, our builder was Dohmen Construction. You hear a lot of construction horror stories and we didn't have any. This is a family run business and they were all great to work with and nice to have around. Gery Dohmen listened to what we wanted and that's what we got.