1 dead in Rainy Lake houseboat resort fire

Two other people were injured at Northernaire Houseboats on Wednesday night.

Flames engulf a brown building as firefighters spray water
Flames engulf the main office/house at the Northernaire Houseboats resort in International Falls on Wednesday.
Contributed / Rainy Lake Gazette
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INTERNATIONAL FALLS — A resort owner was airlifted to a hospital after unsuccessfully attempting to rescue her mother, who died in a fire Wednesday night at Northernaire Houseboats on Rainy Lake.

Vonnette L. Mills, 51, owner of Northernaire, was in critical condition and was flown to a trauma facility. No updates on her condition were available Thursday.

The International Falls Fire Department discovered the body of Lavonne S. Hershberger, 85, inside the main office/house at approximately 11:20 p.m., according to a news release from the Koochiching County Emergency Operations Center.

A 12-year-old girl was also transported to Rainy Lake Medical Center on Wednesday night and remained in stable condition Thursday.

Two firefighters who were transported and treated for heat exhaustion and dehydration were later released.


The fire was reported just after 5 p.m. Wednesday. Firefighters battled the blaze overnight and cleared the scene around 3 a.m. Thursday.

Hershberger's body will be transported to the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office in the Twin Cities, the news release said.

The Minnesota State Fire Marshal's Division arrived on the scene around 11 p.m. Wednesday to begin investigation. Officials believe the fire is likely accidental, but the investigation is ongoing, the news release said.

This story was last updated at 4:40 p.m. Aug. 25 to include the names of the victim and her daughter. It was originally posted at 9:29 p.m. Aug. 24.

Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "staff." Often, the "staff" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.
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