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Fire destroys historic Ortonville, Minn., hotel

ORTONVILLE -- The historic Columbian Hotel in Ortonville burned and collapsed early this morning.

Ortonville Fire Chief Alan Arndt said the fire was reported at 3:10 a.m. Friday, and most of the structure was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived. The fire was under control within about 90 minutes, he said, but they were on the scene until late this morning watching for hot spots. There were no injuries.

"With a building that old -- so dry and so much wood in it -- it went up in a hurry," Arndt said. The hotel was built in the 1890s and was four stories tall.

The cause of the fire is unknown and will probably never be known because of the collapse, he said.

According to Arndt, no one was living in the hotel, and it had not been open for business for some time. The last business in the hotel was a bar on the first floor that closed five or six years ago. The current owners had been remodeling the building.

In addition to the Ortonville Fire Department, departments from Clinton, Minn., Big Stone City, S.D., and Milbank, S.D., also responded.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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