At around 12:30 the morning of Tuesday, February 6, Cook County Dispatch heard reports of a fire alarm at the Lutsen Resort Lodge, a landmark on Minnesta's North Shore. Lutsen employees reported that smoke was seen coming from the floor in the lobby and by the time responders arrived, the resort was already engulfed in flames and the lodge could not be saved.

Thankfully, nobody was inside the lodge at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported. Responding units included the Lutsen Fire Department, Tofte Fire Department, Tofte First Responders, Grand Marais FD, Maple Hill FD, Gunflint FD, Finland FD, Silver Bay FD, Grand Portage FD, and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.

On Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal (SFM) division released information regarding the property's most recent inspection. It's important to note that according to state statute, hotels, motels, and buildings used for lodging, with six or more guest rooms for short-term rentals, are inspected for fire safety once every three years.

The last SFM inspection at the Lutsen Resort Lodge took place on Saturday, July 6, 2023, and seven violations were found. Four of those seven violations were repaired by the property owner. It is too early in their investigation to determine if the three outstanding violations played a role in the fire.

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The SFM cannot predict how long the investigation will take due to the magnitude of this fire. Investigators take this responsibility very seriously. Specific details, including the daily investigative actions in this case, cannot be released per Minnesota Statute 13.82.

"No two fires are alike, which means each investigation is also unique," said Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal Amanda Swenson. "Our investigators are highly trained to determine the origins and causes of fires across Minnesota."

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SFM investigators are now sifting through debris and ashes to review any physical evidence at the scene. They will also review paperwork, such as business and financial reports, and conduct a multitude of interviews.

"We understand the public wants answers," said State Fire Marshal Chief Investigator Jim Iammatteo. "However, it would be irresponsible to offer any insights until the conclusion of this investigation."

State Fire Marshal Daniel Krier says the SFM is leading the investigation into the fire's cause, along with the appreciated help of the Lutsen Fire Department.

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All told, 14 of the 15 volunteer firefighters at the department responded to the fire call at the historic lodge. Some of those same firefighters were then suppressing hot spots at the property using sprinklers throughout the day on Wednesday.

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