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Wausau Business owner is still grieving after a devastating fire, looks to community for support

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 9:45 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The owner of Grundman’s Self-Service Garage in Wausau is still grieving after his business was burned to ashes over the weekend.

Andy Grundman, who has owned the business off Packer Drive for four years, was there when the fire began. After he couldn’t stop it, he called 911. All he could do was watch and think about the work he put into his dream business.

“Every automotive technician’s dream is to have their own shop and this was supposed to be that. This was supposed to be somewhere I could help everyone work on their own car,” Grundman said.

According to Grundman, he saw the fire start around the area of a trash can in his neighbor’s building. After that building quickly was engulfed in flames, his building followed.

Just 5 steel beams are erect from the once tall building.
Just 5 steel beams are erect from the once tall building.(WSAW)

“I was getting ready to put my 4th and final car lift in. Not anymore, it’s twisted steel,” he said.

Now, a walk around the property makes it hard to believe buildings were ever there. All that remains is a vague memory of Grundman’s dream.

“You feel so small when you don’t have walls. And it’s just exposed. Everything I had is all stripped down to nothing,” Grundman said, “You get lost in it and you don’t know what to do.”

While he was watching the fire, he saw the building collapse. At that moment, he realized everything was lost. He couldn’t take it anymore.

At the same time though, his neighbors were lifting him up.

“People knew about this place out here and that I had it. So, a lot of people knew about this place out here and that I had it. A lot of people worried about me being in the shop and getting caught up in there,” Grundman said.

The next day, his wife started a GoFundMe account. Within two days, over $1,800 fill the page.

“It was pretty unbelievable. It took me by surprise, quite a bit,” he said.

While the asking amount is $100,000 and the road ahead is a long one, Grundman knows the support will go a long way.

“It’s going to help immensely. I don’t want to get behind on bills like anyone else does, you know. And I don’t have any income anymore on this place,” Grundman said.

His neighbor, Mike Kellnhauser, had owned the property. It’s been in his wife’s family for many years, according to his close friend and real estate agent, Jacob Mizgalski.

The Kolbe Brothers Mill on the property was also ashes. Although Kellnhauser’s house, which is right next door to the fire, was saved, his friends saw the devastation.

Mizgalski decided to help with a GoFundMe account. It has close to $1,200 as of Monday night.

“He knows so many people in town and people know him. So I was really surprised to see the number of donations right away,” Mizgalski said.

You can click here for Grundman’s GoFundMe, and you can click here for Kellnhauser’s.

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