- Associated Press - Saturday, February 6, 2016

MADELIA, Minn. (AP) - Gov. Mark Dayton is meeting with business owners and city officials in Madelia, a small southern Minnesota town where fire destroyed a good portion of its commercial district earlier this week.

At a meeting Friday morning, Dayton gave out his home phone number to those gathered in the meeting room and promised executive action to help the community recover, KMSP-TV reported. Dayton joked that he lives alone with two German shepherds who don’t answer the phone.

The fire started early Wednesday in a flower shop and spread quickly to neighboring businesses, according to officials. At least seven buildings were destroyed, including a furniture store, a dentist’s office, a restaurant and a hair salon.

“Fire started down the street, and because of the blizzard winds they couldn’t contain it, so it just kind of went from building to building,” dentist Reed Gethmann, whose clinic was charred by the fire, told Minnesota Public Radio News. “And our building just unfortunately got caught in the back. So it looks like it’s an unusable building now.”

The state fire marshal’s office is helping investigate the fire’s cause and origin - an investigation that’s expected to take months.

“Life’s not always smooth and fair,” Gethmann said. “We’ll survive, we’ll get there. Just going to take a little time.”

The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation has set up a fund to help the people and businesses affected by the fire. The organization has surpassed its initial fundraising goal of $50,000 and has already reached $60,000, said Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation President Tim Penny.

“I know how devastating it is in a small town when any business is lost,” said Penny, a former member of Congress. “But here in Madelia that could be a crippling thing … and that’s why it’s so gratifying to see so many organizations step in to try to provide help so that these businesses can come back and Madelia can recover.”

Madelia is located about 25 miles southwest of Mankato.

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Information from: KMSP-TV, http://www.myfox9.com

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