Paul Solberg stared at the charred remains of his race car and struggled to keep his composure.

"This was $10,000," he said of the burned out hulk he used to drag race in. "Over there," he said, pointing to a smoldering pile, "that was my new engine block."

He ticked off an inventory of tools and shook his head.

'I lost $20,000 today," he said quietly.

An early morning fire Thursday northwest of Park Rapids caused "substantial damage" to a storage barn and small manufacturing shop, said Park Rapids Fire Chief Donn Hoffman.

"I almost called in mutual aid" to quell the blaze that was called in shortly after 3 a.m. Thursday.

The building is owned by Paul Kern, Solberg's friend and co-worker.

The state fire marshal arrived on the scene shortly after 8 a.m. to try to determine the cause of the blaze.

Hoffman called in 20 firefighters to respond, beside himself.

"It was a substantial loss," Hoffman said of the building off 129th Avenue.

For Solberg it was a wrenching scene.

"My insurance policy was supposed to go into effect Jan. 1," he said.