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Fire destroys Maplelag Resort in Callaway

A large fire erupted in the main building at Maplelag Resort in Callaway, Minn., in the morning hours of Oct. 10. Ten regional fire departments responded to the call for mutual aid to assist the White Earth and Callaway fire departments at the scene.

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Firefighters from 10 different municipalities battle a fire in the main building at Maplelag Resort in Callaway, Minn., on Oct. 10, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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CALLAWAY — The main building at Maplelag Resort in Callaway, Minn., is expected to be a total loss after fire destroyed a large portion of the main structure on Oct. 10.

At about 8:36 a.m., emergency dispatchers received a call of thick smoke in the main building at the resort. Within minutes of the initial call, other regional fire departments were paged for mutual aid to assist with the blaze.

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Firefighters spray water on the main building at Maplelag Resort in Callaway, Minn., as they battle a large fire on Oct. 10, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

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Firefighters from 10 different municipalities battle a fire at Maplelag Resort in Callaway, Minn., on Oct. 10, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Jim Richards, a family-owner of Maplelag Resort, said resort staff reported seeing smoke and possible fire in the laundry room area, which prompted Jim's son, Jay, to call 911.

"I'm just shocked, shocked," said Richards. "Callaway came quick and White Earth and Detroit Lakes is here now, Ogema is here."

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Richards added no one was hurt and everyone was able to evacuate the building right away.

Fire departments from Callaway, White Earth, Ogema, Detroit Lakes, Carsonville, Lake Park, Frazee, Audubon, Wolf Lake and Elbow Lake-Tulaby, assisted firefighting efforts at the scene.

Within three hours of the initial call, the fire had spread on the second level of the structure and caused the roof to collapse with flames erupting about 20 to 30 feet above the building.

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Onlookers watch firefighters from 10 different municipalities battle a large fire in the main building at Maplelag Resort in Callaway, Minn., on Oct. 10, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Water tankers and other fire trucks were seen speeding back and forth between nearby water sources; filling their vehicles and then dumping the water into large tubs at the scene to be used by the hose teams. Water from nearby Little Sugar Bush Lake was also pumped into the source pools to help with firefighting operations.

One of the resort's neighbors, Ted Torgerson, said he's lived next door to the resort for about 50 years and views it as a tourism bedrock for the area with various events, bike races and trails drawing visitors from all across the region.

"A lot of local people will work in the kitchen and do the cleaning ... and the family works really hard," said Torgerson. "I can just tell, Jay, the son, is so distraught."

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Firefighters spray water on the main building at Maplelag Resort in Callaway, Minn., as they continue to battle a large blaze on Oct. 10, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Torgerson also said Jim Richards is 82 and admires that he's still out improving the property every day that he can.

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"He's out in the woods every day mowing trails and cutting brush," he said.

Becker County Chief Deputy Shane Richard said the situation at Maplelag Resort will be ongoing and vehicles should avoid the area near County Road 110.

"Do not try to drive down (Maplelag Road)," said Shane. "You can see how log-jammed it is with all of the fire apparatus."

He said he expects firefighting efforts to go into the afternoon and evening based on the size of the structure and the make-up of the building's metal siding and metal roof.

"Everybody was out prior to our arrival," said Shane.

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A fireman pumps water from a tanker into a source pool for hose teams to use while battling a large fire at Maplelag Resort in Callaway, Minn., on Oct. 10, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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Detroit Lakes firefighters use a ladder truck to spray water onto the top of the main building during a fire at Maplelag Resort in Callaway, Minn., on Oct. 10, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Lead Multimedia Reporter for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus.
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