Minnesota regulators said on Feb. 7 that a historic lodge that was destroyed by fire had three unresolved violations from a recent fire code inspection, but it was unclear whether those violations played a role in the fire.
A staff member at the Lutsen Lodge in Lake Superior saw smoke coming from electrical outlets on the lobby floor around 12:30 a.m. on February 6. The employee was able to exit and no guests had checked in, but the lodge was destroyed.
A news release from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said the State Fire Marshal division conducted an inspection in July and found seven violations. The agency said four of them were repaired by the property owner.
“It is too early in the investigation to determine if the three outstanding violations played a role in the fire,” the release said.
The state said it was unclear when the investigation would be completed.
Lutsen, which began in 1885, claims to be Minnesota’s oldest resort, with the lodge as its centerpiece. It is a popular destination for hikers, skiers and other visitors from the Midwest and beyond.
The main lodge was rebuilt after the 1951 fire. The lodge operators promised to rebuild.
Bryce Campbell, owner of Lutsen Lodge, told the Star Tribune in an email that he owes about $150,000 to several people who own cabins and condominiums nearby, fueling online speculation that he may have started the fire. Without prompting from the newspaper, he denied those rumors.
“My heart broke, and I felt that I was mourning someone,” Campbell wrote in the newspaper. “You don’t know what it feels like to lose a big part of your life (that) my mom and I built. … It hurts my broken heart more to focus on such silly accusations.”
Jay Halverson, who owns a townhouse and a cabin near the lodge, told the newspaper that Campbell owed him about $30,000 in rental income. Halverson said he suspects the cause of the fire.
Photo: Firefighters battle an overnight fire that destroyed the Lutsen Lodge on the North Shore of Lake Superior, early Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, in Lutsen, Minn. (Edward Vanegas via AP)
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