Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Moose Lake Motel, long time business of city, lost in fire

 

March 21, 2019

Bethany Helwig

A ladder rig from the Carlton Fire Department came to fight the blaze from above.

People were concerned when black smoke rose above the treetops in Moose Lake around 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 13. The motel was on fire, it was learned.

"The calls to 911 were around 11:30," said owner Scott Williams in a telephone interview later in the week. "I got the call at 11:43 that morning. We heard that there were 10 or 12 calls that came in."

Williams said that there had been three guests at the Moose Lake Motel the night before.

"Two of the guests had already checked out," he explained. "One guest was a gal that was taking training at Mercy Hospital. She took her belongings and went to the Days Inn."

Manager Phil Krisik, who lived in an apartment in the center of the 12-unit structure, was unaware of the smoke and fire at first, said Williams.

"Before he even knew, I found out about it," he said.

The Moose Lake Fire Department responded and called for mutual aid from six other departments: Willow River, Sturgeon Lake, Kettle River, Barnum, Mahtowa and Carlton.

Crews battled the flames but found that the fire was burning in the attic and there was little that they could do until the ladder truck from Carlton arrived 20 minutes later.

The truck was positioned in front of the motel and the ladder extended over the structure. A powerful jet of water from the pipe attached to the ladder shot water down on the flames, dousing the fire quickly.

By then, the fire had spread to the south end of the building and flames exploded out of a window in the front of the building.

Williams said that the first part of the building had been built in the early 1950s, and there had been additions built in later years.

Smoke was seeping from the peak of the roof on the north end of the building but the flames did not burn through the shingles. Rafters in the attic were burning.

"The farthest room is still perfect," he said. "But the smoke smell in there is so bad that it can't be saved. What the fire didn't get, the water did."

The building was declared a total loss.

The state fire marshal and insurance company representative were on site within the next few days. It was determined that it was the fan in the bathroom of the living quarters that started the fire, said Williams.

"As soon as we hear from the insurance company, the building will be demolished and the site cleaned up and leveled," said Williams. "We are not sure what we are going to do with that property yet. We might sell it or we might keep it and rebuild."

When asked about Krisik, Williams said that he wasn't doing well the day after the fire.

"Now he is just happy that no one was hurt," he said. "He is staying with us."

Krisik lost everything in the fire, he added. He had not been able to save anything.

"I want to thank everyone who reported the fire and those that called afterwards to express their condolences," said Williams. "I also want to thank all of the firefighters and other emergency response people that came to help."

 

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