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Ken's Tackle not sure whether to rebuild

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The owners of Ken's Tackle, destroyed by a fire the day after Christmas, are undecided on whether to rebuild.

Gary Peterson, 58, who operated the Otter Tail Lake bait shop, had owned the building with his wife, Kim, since 2005.

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"We had good insurance coverage," said Kim in an interview Monday, "but we want to take our time in making a decision on rebuilding or not. Cleaning up is just getting started. Even if we did decide to rebuild, we couldn't do anything until March. So that gives us plenty of time to make a decision."

The Petersons have told friends and customers that the loss of Ken's Tackle is like a death in the family.

"The insurance adjusters and others have told us to take our time and not react too quickly, one way or the other," said Kim.

A passerby, at 4:19 a.m. on Dec. 26, called emergency personnel to report that smoke and flames were visible and coming through the roof of the bait shop. The roof had already fallen in when first responders arrived at the scene. The walls collapsed shortly thereafter, according to the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators surmised that an electrical malfunction may have been the cause of the fire, however the investigation is continuing. According to Gary, the fire marshall is also looking into furnace operation and other possible causes. A marshall's report is due at the end of January.

Gary arrived at the site of the fire and said he had recently been battling frozen water lines. He had wrapped some lines with heat tape.

The Battle Lake and Ottertail City Fire Departments were on the scene.

Ken's Tackle, one year ago, completed a major face-lift remodel and had a wide-open look to the floor space. Peterson took pride that his remodeling made the bait shop "look fresh and really nice."

Ken's Tackle has been advertised as, "the only full-service bait and tackle shop on Otter Tail Lake."

The shop was located just north of what was formerly Graystone Lodge, now Guzzler's restaurant. In addition to Otter Tail Lake, many of Peterson's customers fished Dead, Rush, East and West Lost, Deer and Twin lakes.

Ken's Tackle sold not only fishing supplies but also hardware, clothing, gifts, DVD rental, snacks and ice cream.

Over the years, Gary sold a lot of bait, tackle, rods and reels. If customers needed assistance with equipment rentals or finding fishing guides, he had the answers.

The Ken's Tackle owner, prior to 2005, worked as the lead carpenter for a construction company in West Fargo. He said that with all the wear and tear on his body during that job, he was ready to move on to a new, more relaxed lifestyle.

He had some previous experience with the bait business.

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