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.

Since the fire, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal (SFM) division released information regarding the property's most recent inspection, stating that during the most recent inspection, seven violations were discovered.

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They added that 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. The SFM investigation into the fire is ongoing.

Since that fire, public speculation and rumors surrounding the loss of the Lutsen Lodge have been weighing on owner Bryce Campell, and on February 11, he sounded off on what he's observed.

"A Statement From Bryce Campbell"

On the Historic Lutsen Lodge Facebook page, Campbell posted the following message to the public:

"STOP. Shame on so many of you. The damage that has been done is going beyond a building. This tragedy should only be about the loss of such an important icon and the people affected by it including so much of our team. Instead, the site has become a spectacle in the likes of a roadside attraction for photos and the tragic loss has become a source of enjoyment for gossipers and headlines to sell news subscriptions.
I don’t think any of you know what it’s like to be in hurt and pain with a loss like this to begin with but then to have it become so much more, it’s almost impossible to describe the feeling. Myself aside, going after our hardworking management team, posts discrediting the amazing work some of them have done just because you can’t handle change; that’s just sad. So many of us were proud of what we had been accomplishing. You might not have liked that we changed to fine dining, and you may not have liked that we were positioning to a boutique luxury property, but that doesn’t give you the right to troll on social media the way you have been, that doesn’t give you the right to go after the reputation of not just myself but our very talented management team that was working so hard to achieve this vision.

What was lost this week was so much more than just a building. We lost our identity. I’ve told so many that one of the saddest things to this beyond the obvious is that I’ll never get that bronze “Historic Hotels of America” plaque I’ve longed for to have proudly displayed next to the entry door. My love for Lutsen is the same as many who value history. It’s always been a joke amongst our organization how it’s my favorite, but of course it is. Those who frequented the Lodge know that there is simply a feeling when you pull up when you walk up those steps and open the door to the lobby and are greeted by an old warmth.

I ask all of you contributing to the unnecessary negativity to stop. We will be rebuilding this lodge as close as possible to the original, we will be doing everything we can to make sure that the rebuild is done in a way that makes the building seem as though it’s always been there. We are doing everything we can to hang onto the existing fireplace stone to re-use for the rebuild knowing that was the building's heart. The last thing we want is for the greatness and 140-year history of Lutsen to be tarnished. We want to proudly rebuild tied to that history, let’s not forget that."

The Historic Lutsen Lodge Facebook
The Historic Lutsen Lodge Facebook

"Fact Statement" Written By Bryce Campbell

In addition to the statement above, Campell also addressed six things that he believes have been inaccurately reported, leading to false accusations.

  • Zero guests. This is not “suspicious”. This winter has been extremely slow without the snow. We likely have had a dozen zero occupancy days this winter. It’s not the norm for most winters, but a norm for this winter, unfortunately.
  • The apparent “Failed Fire Inspection”. Every property receives a fire inspection. On it “violations” might sound extreme, but it’s no different than a Health Inspection either. The inspections are done to find issues that need to be resolved so the property can do just that, resolve them to ensure it’s safe for everyone. Which is what we do with every inspection. What made this different was the documentation for the panel inspection, what isn’t noted is that it was also because we just put in a brand-new fire alarm panel. That’s right folks, you can’t have an annual inspection on something that isn’t even annual in age yet. The piece about the sprinkler system, once again, an important part of this was the fact that we were tying in the all-new portion of the system leading to the third floor. The system was not only functioning, we actually were making it better.
  • The “apparent” lawsuits from cabin owners. FACT: We have not been served any lawsuits from any of these individuals. Not to say that they don’t intend to or that they most likely are now, but I can tell you even as of today I have not been served any claims. I’m disappointed in some of the owner's actions for the sake of a story, but I understand they are concerned about receiving their final payments after we ended the contract with them. I’m dismayed at a few, but also know that some of the other owners are great people and I hope they trust us to still do the final reconciliation they are owed when we can after this.
  • Regarding unpaid sales tax, our sales tax is paid to date.
  • Regarding property taxes. Out of all our parcels, two small parcels seem to get missed from the escrow payment every year. This is pretty minor, the main portion was paid, and not only that we were anticipating a refund for overpayment of $53,000.
  • No, we were not filing for bankruptcy. I’ve never engaged with a bankruptcy lawyer in my 22 years of business, that’s not how I work. A slow winter doesn’t equate to bankruptcy, you just focus on the busy summer ahead.

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