Tourism Season Underway While Bluefin Deals With Damage

Posted at: 06/09/2013 7:24 PM | Updated at: 06/09/2013 10:54 PM
By: Laurie Stribling
lstribling@wdio.com

Resort workers in Tofte are dealing with fire damage just as the busy tourism season gets underway.

"It's going to be a really difficult time to figure out how to get all this rebuilt and still entertain all our guests all summer," Bluefin Bay General Manager Dennis Rysdahl said. "It will be awhile; there's quite a bit of work to do."

Rysdahl was in Duluth Saturday when the fire broke out at his resort.

"I got to Taconite and I saw two firetrucks turning in, and I know they get water there," Rysdahl said. "I thought, 'Oh, still going,' and my heart kind of sunk a little bit."

Firefighters spent hours working to contain the blaze. The initial investigation showed no signs of foul play, according to Rysdahl. He also said officials said it may have started in a fireplace. Rysdahl said a guest left a fire burning in a unit when the fire started.

Rysdahl said the fire damaged four units with the blaze spreading between the ceiling and the roof. A fifth unit was damaged by water and smoke because firefighters broke walls there to stop the fire.

Ten units total were evacuated during the blaze.

"All ten in this building were being used," Rysdahl said. "We were pretty close to full."

While everyone got out safe, in a town the size of Tofte, something like this affects everyone.

"It was scary at first knowing that it was a local business going up in flames," Kim Jahnke, who works at the Tofte General Store, said.

"I mean it was chaos yesterday," Jenny Buckman said, who works at the Holiday across from Bluefin. "I think that Bluefin holds Tofte together."

Rysdahl said the damaged units will not affect guests in remaining condos. The price of the damage and time frame for repairs is unknown at this time.

Rysdahl said guests in those five units Saturday were either moved to open units or nearby resorts. He said future guests with reservations in those units will be moved the same way.

(Picture courtesy of Rysdahl)

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