Fire destroys Lincoln Park building, displaces dozen residents

A fast-spreading structure fire caused the building to become unstable and forced firefighters to retreat from its interior.

Three Duluth firefighters exit the Lincoln Park apartment building that was destroyed by fire overnight. The blaze was reported at 8:35 p.m. Wednesday. Firefighters were still on the scene Thursday morning dealing with hot spots. (Steve Kuchera /

A fire destroyed a Duluth apartment building and displaced its residents Wednesday night. No injuries were reported.

Firefighters responded at 8:35 p.m. to 331 N. 28th Ave. W., in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. The fire, driven by the fierce winds of a blizzard, quickly spread through the balloon frame of the building, which was constructed without fire stops, Assistant Fire Chief Dennis Edwards said in a press release Thursday. As the structure soon became unstable, firefighters were forced to withdraw from the interior.

"The wind definitely played a part in the acceleration of the fire," Edwards said.

He estimated that firefighters were in the building for about 20-25 minutes, aggressively battling the fast-spreading blaze on three levels and the attic, before the difficult call was made to pull back from the unsteady structure.

"Early in my career, that felt like that was the worst thing to be pulled out of a working fire. But the safety of our firefighters is of paramount importance, and no building is worth a firefighter's life," Edwards said.


Crews remained on the scene, working to suppress the fire from its exterior.

All 12 residents of the building were safely evacuated, but the structure is considered a total loss.

The fire remains under investigation. The city has asked that members of the public stay away from the smoldering wreckage.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, but Edwards said the building manager reported it began in the basement.

This story was updated at 3:33 p.m. Dec. 24 to correct information initially provided by the city of Duluth regarding assistance for the displaced residents. It was also updated at 10:39 a.m. Dec. 24 with comments from Assistant Fire Chief Dennis Edwards. The story was originally posted at 9:32 a.m. Dec. 24.

Duluth firefighters break through an exterior wall to reach a hot spot in the ceiling of the flooded basement of the Lincoln Park apartment building destroyed by a fire overnight. (Steve Kuchera /


Looking in through a second-story window opening shows that Wednesday’s fire burned through to the exterior of the apartment building at 331 N. 28th Ave. W. (Steve Kuchera /

Water vapor escapes the Lincoln Park apartment building destroyed by fire overnight as Duluth firefighters break through an exterior wall to reach a hot spot. (Steve Kuchera /

Peter Passi covers city government for the Duluth News Tribune. He joined the paper in April 2000, initially as a business reporter but has worked a number of beats through the years.
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