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Picking up the pieces

Here’s how Long Lake Lodge looked prior to Sunday night’s fire. (Contributed)

It’s still too early for Kent Hintermeister to sort things out about the future of his business, Long Lake Lodge near Brandon.

He’s still sorting through the ashes.

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A fire destroyed much of Long Lake Lodge late Sunday night. Built in 2002-2003 and growing in popularity every year, the lodge hosted weddings, receptions, business meetings, shooting sports activities and community events.

Now, most of it is in ruins.

The banquet facility is still operational but the part of the building used for catering, including the commercial and kitchen equipment, is gone, along with the main lodge.

Hintermeister said he still doesn’t have answers about what happened. The fire experts who investigated told him the fire was so hot, they’re not sure how it started. It’s classified as “undetermined.”

Where will he go from here?

“I don’t know. It’s too early to say,” he said in a phone interview with the Echo Press Wednesday afternoon. “I’ll do something, but rebuilding what I had is probably impossible.”

One bright spot is that the outbuildings, including the Northwoods Cabin where up to seven guests can stay, are intact and functioning.

Hintermeister and his wife, Brenda, found out the business was burning when a neighbor called them that night. No one was in the lodge when it started.

After Hintermeister saw the flames, he quickly plowed the driveway so law enforcement vehicles and fire trucks could get in.

“I was impressed with the fire department,” he said. “What those boys do is incredible. It’s quite a way to volunteer – above and beyond.”

The fire came at a time when the lodge was turning a corner. It was hosting 15 to 20 weddings a year, including its last one on January 4.

“We were continuing to grow,” he said. “Things were at the point of going very well. But we’ll see if we can’t turn things around and make headway after this.”

The lodge is known for its beautiful scenery. Couples get married on a platform overlooking the lake.

“It’s a place guys don’t mind getting married in,” Hintermeister said. “While the gals get their hair done, the guys could shoot targets.”

As he mulls over what to do next, Hintermeister said he has “a couple thousand” details to work through. He’s already had to contact people who had events scheduled at the lodge – a business gathering and a family’s post-Christmas holiday party. Several other events in February and March will also be cancelled.

One couple has a wedding planned this May that Hintermeister still hopes to accommodate. “We’ll sure find a way to make it work,” he said.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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