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‘Nothing Left but Ash and Rubble’: Police Launch Investigation After Fire Destroys Lutsen Lodge

The fire at Lutsen Lodge is the second in less than a year to destroy a popular business on Minnesota's North Shore. Both blazes remain under investigation.

lutsen lodge fireFirefighters battle a blaze at Lutsen Lodge on Tuesday morning; (image/screenshot c. Edward Vanegas)
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An unexplained fire has destroyed Lutsen Lodge, an iconic business on Minnesota’s North Shore.

The historic Lutsen Lodge, a beloved spot for skiing and hiking dating back to 1885, burned down early Tuesday morning after a blaze began sometime in the middle of the night. Owners said the fire had caused “a total loss” of the building, and the state fire marshal’s office has launched an investigation.

Eight fire departments arrived during the night to battle the blaze, but were unable to contain it, Minnesota Public Radio reported. Though no injuries were reported, the property remained an active fire scene as of this writing.

“It was really hot. It took the whole building down,” Edward Vanegas, resort general manager, told GearJunkie on Tuesday. “There’s nothing left but ash and rubble.”

Lutsen Lodge has long been a popular North Shore destination for skiers, hikers, and cyclists, who filled the below Facebook post with somber reflections about the magnitude of the loss.

Lodge Managers Committed to Rebuilding Lutsen

On Tuesday, lodge managers focused on figuring out what happened, and deciding how to help staff members that suddenly found themselves without a job, Vanegas said. Meanwhile, the fire continued to burn in some parts of the destroyed building.

For Vanegas, who arrived here 5 years ago from Colorado, it was immediately apparent that Lutsen Lodge represented something special.

“You could feel the memories in the building,” he said. “Every guest seemed to have a story. Their grandparents had come here, and now they bring their kids here. It’s just amazing to see that every day when people come in the front door.”

But the lodge has already made one comeback after a disastrous fire. It’s actually the third major blaze in the lodge’s history, with previous fires in 1949 and 1951. After the first fire, the resort’s founders rebuilt with a design by Edwin Lundie, arguably the state’s most famous architect of wooden buildings.

The resort still has Lundie’s original designs and will use them to rebuild the lodge once again.

“The original founders saw this building burn down, and then rebuilt it two times,” Vanegas said. “It’s our turn as caretakers to do it again.”

Tuesday’s fire is the second blaze to consume a North Shore business within the last year. In June 2023, the popular restaurant Papa Charlie’s also burned to the ground in an unexplained fire.

Authorities launched an investigation into that blaze, and the case remains open, according to a spokesperson for the fire marshal’s office. A cause for the Lutsen Lodge fire has also not been determined, the spokesperson said.

In the short-term, however, the lodge’s guests — and managers — must come to terms with what happened last night, Vanegas said.

“There are generations across the Midwest that are saddened seeing this,” he said. “It’s an extension of their family, and we’re going to do everything we can to put it back.”

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