LANESBORO (AP) -- A fire destroyed one business and severely damaged two other buildings in Lanesboro's historic downtown before crews were able to get it under control late Monday.
The blaze had been burning since Sunday night, when firefighters were called to the Little River General Store and discovered cardboard burning in the east end of the building. The store houses a bicycle and canoe rental business and sells antiques and gifts.
The fire exploded out of control when it hit the store's gas meters. Firefighters from Preston, Fountain and Rushford were called to help.
Crews thought they had the blaze contained to the General Store early Monday when it moved north, engulfing the adjoining Ford Store, which houses an ice cream parlor and two apartments.
Volunteer Pat Gemio of Lanesboro served lunch to Rushford firefighters Dave Lombard (right) and Travis Eide after firefighter spent hours battling a downtown Lanesboro fire.
The fire spread to a third building before firefighters were able to get it under control. Crews were still pouring water on smoldering spots early Monday night. No injuries was reported.
Many of the 800 people who live in the popular tourist town watched as flames devoured the General Store, the Ford Store and a plumbing and heating business. The buildings, remodeled over the years, were built in the late 1800s and were a focal point of the village's resurgence over the past two decades.
Chuck St. Mane, owner of the Ford Store and brother of Jeff St. Mane, who owns the General Store, said he did not know if he would rebuild.
"I haven't talked with anyone to see if this will be a total loss," he said. "This will be hard."
Jeff St. Mane said the stores have been in the family for more than 40 years.
Each of the three two-story buildings had an apartment upstairs, and the nine people living in the apartments were able to get out of the buildings safely.
The remains of the General Store and Ford Store were leveled. The third building was believed structurally sound, though it sustained extensive damage.
"It's pretty sad in our little historic town," said Doris Dybing, 74, who operates the Galligan Bed and Breakfast. "Everybody felt pretty upset over it."
Lanesboro is about 30 miles southeast of Rochester.
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