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The fire is believed to have started in the hallway between the restaurant and tavern by a malfunctioning baseboard heater. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)
The fire is believed to have started in the hallway between the restaurant and tavern by a malfunctioning baseboard heater. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Baseboard heater likely cause of fire

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news Park Rapids, 56470

Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

A faulty electrical baseboard heater is being looked at as the cause of the December fire that destroyed much of the Whitetail Tavern on Highway 34.

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And owner Mike Erickson said he's still not sure if the restaurant and tavern will be rebuilt. It will all depend on the insurance company, he said.

A baseboard heater in the hallway between the tavern and Velvet Antler Restaurant may have had wiring problems, investigators have preliminarily determined.

"I think probably in the next week or so they'll have a final, final determination," said Nevis Fire Chief Kerry Swenson.

"I haven't gotten a final report from him (the state fire marshal) but it's definitely electrical and they've narrowed it down to an electrical piece of equipment," he added.

Erickson said he's still dealing with the insurance claim.

"There's so many options right now it's hard to say for sure," he said.

"Once we sit down with the insurance company that will be the tell-tale..."

He said among the options are demolition or rebuilding.

"It smells really bad in there," he said of the tavern side of the building, which sustained heavy damage.

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