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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.

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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.

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

Related Topics: ORTONVILLEFIRES
In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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