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Lutsen Lodge burned down: Bad Luck or Foul Play?


In the early hours of February 6th, Lutsen Lodge was engulfed in flames, and by noon of the same day, smoldering rubble was all that remained. Located on the North Shore, Lutsen Lodge was a tourist attraction and ski resort that was loved by many. The land the lodge stood on was originally bought in 1885. In 1945, it opened as a ski resort, but unfortunately, the lodge burned down a couple years later in 1948. It was rebuilt, only for it to burn down again in 1951. The lodge was rebuilt one final time, which had stayed strong up until the most recent blaze of last month. 

Luckily, this fire yielded no casualties or injuries because they had no visitors that night, and the one staff member that was present called 911 once they saw smoke and evacuated. In July 2023, after an inspection, the state fire marshal had issued Lutsen Lodge with seven violations.

The state fire marshal is currently investigating the fire, only seven months prior, after an inspection, had they issued Lutsen Lodge with seven violations. According to the agency, four of the violations had been fixed. Three remained unsolved, which concerned testing of the lodge’s sprinkler system, inspection of the fire alarm system, and one emergency light in the building. 

Other suspicious details have come to light in the wake of the fire. Since February 1st, four separate civil claims have been filed against the lodge by cabin owners who claim that the lodge owes them a combined amount of over $50,000. Karen & Bob Nagel, who filed one of these claims, purchased a cabin in 2013 through the Lutsen Lodge corporation and have always split any fees 50/50 with the resort. However, when Bryce Campbell bought Lutsen in 2018, the Nagels began experiencing issues with late payments, and claim that Campbell currently owes them $13,000.

It’s well known that resorts like Lutsen are struggling this winter with the lack of snow and bipolar temperatures. Many have pointed out how the lodge happened to burn down on a night with no visitors, in a time of slow business, and right after a handful of lawsuits were filed against it. Others have found it suspicious that Campbell didn’t fix the sprinkler and fire alarm violations in the last seven months, knowing that the lodge has already burned down twice before. Additionally, the building was almost made entirely out of wood, which contributed to the lodge’s quick and fiery collapse. 

While conversations about arson and insurance fraud have been brought up, people have pointed out other surrounding establishments along the North Shore that have been burned down. Less than 6 miles away, two fires occurred almost exactly three years apart. In April 2020, a fire at the Crooked Spoon Café broke out that destroyed the neighboring business along with. The second one happened in April 2023, which completely destroyed Sydney’s Frozen Custard and Wood-Fired Pizza. A third occurred last June that destroyed Papa Charlie’s Tavern, a restaurant that’s a part of Lutsen Mountains. Investigations into all three of these fires haven’t identified causes for any of them, but foul play isn’t suspected and these coincidences are said to be instances of bad luck. 

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