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Hotel kitchen fire forces evacuation in Canal Park

There were no injuries as Duluth fire crews battled a kitchen fire that traveled in ductwork up four floors of Pier B Resort.

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The Duluth Fire Department responded to a commercial kitchen fire at Pier B Resort in Duluth on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. Multiple fire trucks were at the scene. This is the view from West 1st Street in Duluth overlooking Mesaba Avenue and Interstate 35. Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune

Nobody was injured when a commercial kitchen fire forced the evacuation of a Canal Park resort and hotel Friday afternoon.

As firefighters worked the scene, Pier B resort guests mixed outside the hotel. Next door, visitors streamed into the Bentleyville holiday lights display.

"We think it's out," said Matt Johnson, the acting assistant fire chief at the scene. He described the Duluth Fire Department being called to the resort (800 W. Railroad St.) by an automatic alarm.

"There was black smoke coming from the roof when we arrived," Johnson said, describing how the fire started in the kitchen and traveled up an exhaust hood, sending the fire traveling up the ductwork to the fourth-floor roof. About a half-hour after their arrival, crews continued to pour water from the roof down through the exhaust outlet, and assess hot spots between the floors.

Johnson confirmed there were no injuries to report. The fire department estimated there was $75,000 in damages to the kitchen and building, according to a news release late Friday.

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Lisa Shi, 37, of Plymouth, Minnesota, was a hotel guest with her husband and three children.

"We had been swimming when we heard the alarm," she said. "We saw smoke and didn't grab anything. We just got out."

Another guest loaned her a coat and shoes, while her children and husband took refuge in another guest's vehicle.

Shi noted her fourth-floor room right below where firefighters were pouring water onto the roof.

"I hope we'll be able to get our stuff," she said.

About an hour after the alarm sounded, firefighters invited guests back into the lobby, while saying they could not go to rooms until given an all-clear.

"Crews are still looking for (fire) and continuing to apply water from the roof access," a Duluth Fire Department tweet said.

Gay Allworden, 62, of Excelsior, Minnesota, said the evacuation was "orderly," and that the alarm sounded at roughly 4:45 p.m., just as darkness fell and visitors began to converge on the holiday lights next door.

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"We're here to see the lights," Allworden said. "We're being tourists."

This story was updated at 8:30 p.m., Nov. 26, 2021 to include the damage estimate. It was originally posted at 6:10 p.m., Nov. 26, 2021.

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