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Fairyland Cottages destroyed in controlled fire Tuesday

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Fairyland Cottages was reduced to a heap of ash Tuesday evening, as the main building of the former resort burned in a controlled fire.

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The fire was staged at 410 W. Lake Drive as part of a training exercise by the Detroit Lakes Fire Department. Fire Chief Jeff Swanson said it was a great opportunity for his crew to receive hands-on training.

"There was a fire in it a couple of years ago and it needed to be torn down," Swanson said.

Police blocked off a stretch of Lake Drive between Summit Avenue and Rossman Avenue to accommodate fire crews. All totaled, the road closure lasted about three hours.

Passers-by gathered to see the commotion and one visitor from Fairbanks, Alaska, Ed Penttinen, stopped by this morning to see what was left. "It was all engulfed in flames," Penttinen said.

Once a prominent resort that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its significance between 1925 and 1949, all that is left of the main building is a heap of smoldering ash surrounding an intact stone fireplace.

"Not much left here now," said Penttinen.

He added that crews also doused a neighboring cottage on the property with water to prevent the fire from spreading. That building, though, is scheduled for demolition as well later today. The remnants of the burnt building will be cleaned up as well.

A new condominium complex is due to be built on the site sometime this summer, according to Lloyd Feldt of Feldt's Plumbing, who was surveying the damage earlier this morning. "We'll be in here today," Feldt said.

The smell of burning coals still left a stench in the air at the site, and Feldt said that he was hopeful of rain later in the day to cool down the remaining hot spots.

As for the training exercise itself, Swanson said that everything went according to plan. "It went down really good," Swanson said.

And the time was well spent for those involved, who had the chance to learn to start a fire and keep it contained instead of just trying to douse one as quickly as possible.

"It was a good couple of hours for everyone," Swanson said.

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