Willow Lake businesses nearly finished after 2011 fire - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Willow Lake businesses nearly finished after 2011 fire

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It was nearly a year ago when smoke and flames filled the air in downtown Willow Lake.

The fire wiped out most of the downtown area and now some of the businesses affected are rebuilding and will soon be ready to open.

A new look in downtown Willow Lake is starting to emerge.

The reconstruction and renovations come on the heels of a devastating fire in July of 2011, that destroyed nearly half a city block.

Shane Ladwig was the Fire Chief of Willow Lake when the call came in.

"I know when that call came in and I was driving up Main Street it was an overwhelming feeling and fear for the community and for the future of a small town and all of those indescribable feelings," Ladwig said.

But, it wasn't long before the community prevailed, coming together and rebuilding.

"Not only are the local people taking the initiative on this, the city is stepping in," Kristin Vandersnick, Willow Lake Area Advancement said. "We're also getting new sidewalks; we have new light polls up and down Main Street. A lot of people are involved in this, so the credit really needs to go to the whole community

Wayne Tellinghuisen owned the building that was destroyed in the fire.

"Well, all communities take disasters in different ways. This one stepped up to the plate and are taking care of business as best we can for a small community," Tellinghuisen said.

Over the past year Tellinghuisen was been rebuilding; with a new building, new offices and a new look.

Tellinghuisen has nearly completed the Home Town Hotel; a unique looking building that seems to be setting the theme for the rest of the downtown area.

"It's been absolutely phenomenal to see somebody to do something in willow lake that will make us remain a town," Vivian Johnsen, Willow Lake Council President said.

People in the town of nearly 300 say they're not going to let a fire in the heart of their community dampen their spirits.

City leaders say they are planning to renovate the local grocery store as well.

The Home Town Hotel is expected to be finished by this Sunday.

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