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BP auto shop catches fire — twice

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Tuesday morning brought a sense of déjà vu to Blooming Prairie when residents awoke to fire trucks at Salinas Auto Repair for the second day in a row.

Blooming Prairie Fire Department was called to Salinas Auto Repair around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday when someone reported the business on fire. The business had been declared a total loss Monday morning after a 5 a.m. blaze tore through it, collapsing the roof and destroying everything inside.

Blooming Prairie Police Chief Paul Wayne said a hot spot above the office area reignited the fire Tuesday.

Robert Salinas, owner of the repair shop, said he will rebuild despite the severe loss.

“We’re not giving up,” Salinas said. “We’re building back up as soon as the insurance gets taken care of.”

Blooming Prairie Fire Chief Dean Naatz said a neighbor who lives across from the auto shop called 9-1-1 to report the first fire around 5 a.m. Monday. Blooming Prairie and Hayfield fire departments controlled the blaze in less than an hour but were on scene until around 10:30 a.m. Nobody was inside when the fire began and nobody was injured.

Everything inside the shop was lost in the fire, including seven cars that were there to be serviced. Salinas said two of the cars are family-owned and five were customer-owned. At least two customers have already told Salinas they don’t have insurance on their burned cars, but so far everyone has been understanding.

“I have had nobody come up to me screaming,” Salinas said. “That does help.”

He’s still not sure what to do about his customers’ destroyed vehicles, but he hopes to come up with a solution as he files insurance claims.

“I’ve got some insurance, but I don’t have millions of dollars that would cover the vehicles that got destroyed,” Salinas said. “I’m willing to help them, but for now my hands are tied.”

In the meantime, the small town’s residents have rallied behind Salinas. He said several people have already asked how they can help.

“The people that I work with and a lot of the community people are coming up to me asking if I need their help,” Salinas said.

As much as he would like to accept the community’s offer, the shop is off limits until the fire marshal and crews finish their investigation. The cause of the fire is still unknown, although no foul play is suspected, Naatz said.

Salinas said the shop will be closed while he sorts out insurance claims and begins to rebuild, but he hopes to take small repair jobs in the building behind the burned-down shop to supplement his income.

“Hopefully the good Lord will help us and we can be back in business after a couple of months,” he said. “We’re not planning on quitting. As soon as we’re back in business I want to serve the people like I was before, and I hope it will be fast and quick.”