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Camp, retreats at Pilgrim Point canceled after fire

A July 4 fire at 2059 Pilgrim Point Rd. NW in Alexandria has caused Pilgrim Point Camp to cancel four retreats and an all-week camp scheduled for this month. (Micah Friez / Echo Press)

All camps and retreats through most of July have been canceled after a July 4 fire damaged the dining hall at Pilgrim Point Camp.

The camp and retreat center is operated by Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ. No campers were on site at the time, but campers were expected to begin arriving Friday afternoon, July 6.

"We've already made the decision to cancel all of our camps and retreats through July 28," said Kevin Brown, associate conference minister for Faith Formation with Children and Youth. "But we're exploring some options for bringing in a temporary food service operation by July 29 and going through the end of the season."

Mutual aid called

Forty-three firefighters from three fire departments spent part of their July 4 evening at the fire, which was first reported to be in a cabin.

Alexandria Fire Chief Jeff Karrow said the department was dispatched to 2059 Pilgrim Point Rd. NW at 6:22 p.m. and had water flowing on the scene within eight minutes.

The fire started when propane gas from an LP tank built up and ignited, Karrow said. It got in the eaves of the building and in the attic and spaces between multiple roofs and ran back and forth, he said.

Mutual aid was requested from the Carlos and Miltona fire departments.

The building is still standing, but Karrow said the fire damaged the rafters and trusses, and combined with the water damage, he estimated the loss could approach $400,000.

"There's significant damage to the roofing structure," Brown said, adding that he would be accompanying an insurance adjuster next week to further assess the damage.

Four retreats, camp canceled

Brown said the camp was contacting all of its registered campers with notification of the cancellations, and will be posting updates on camps scheduled through the remainder of 2018 on the church's website at and the camp's Facebook page.

A week-long family camp and four weekend retreats have been canceled thus far at the 140-bed camp, upsetting what has became a summer staple for many visitors.

"This is sort of the highlight of the summer for our family campers," Brown said, noting that some people have been coming to Pilgrim Point for a family camp in July for nearly 40 years.

He said the fire was in the building that housed the only dining facility at the camp site. The facility will be out of operation for the rest of the season.

"We hope to have one reopened for our 2019 season in mid-May," Brown said.