AP NEWS

Fire destroys VFW, treatment center in Grand Rapids

March 8, 2020 GMT

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. (AP) — Fire has destroyed a Grand Rapids VFW post and a nearby addiction treatment center in northern Minnesota.

Flames engulfed the downtown Grand Rapids operations of Lakeview Behavioral Health on Saturday night. The center was unoccupied at the time. Smoke and flames then spread to the Ponti-Peterson VFW Post 1720 next door shortly after 9 p.m. Only a few people were in the VFW post and were able to get out safely, according to post service officer Hugh Quinn.

“Our post is gone,” Quinn said. “A lot of memories have gone down. We don’t know yet what’s been saved.”

Quinn said a substantial amount of the 91-year-old post’s military memorabilia is gone, the Star Tribune reported. Quinn said an Iraqi veteran did venture inside and “rounded up everything he could.”

Two World War I veterans founded the post in 1929, and it was named in their honor, according to Kenny Hurlbut, the post’s chaplain and recording secretary.

Hurlbut said “the basement is filled with water right to the top,” and the level above is a complete loss.

Lakeview Behavioral Health has two other locations, another in Grand Rapids and one in Hibbing.

Arrangements were underway for Lakeview’s downtown clients to receive services at its other Grand Rapids center.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.