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Part of northern Minnesota motel torn down to help prevent spread of fire

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Officials took to unusual measures to help stop the spread of a fire Sunday morning by tearing down part of the Vermillion Motel in Cook, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Wayne Toewe tells the News Tribune that while he's not a "fire expert," he's pretty sure the move "saved the rest of the motel and the (attached) Country Store from going up in flames, too."

Authorities called in a local contractor to flatten the dwelling of the motel's caretaker since the south side of the motel was engulfed in flames and at least six fire departments had been called into to fight the fire.

The manager of the motel, Joan Hahn, says all 17 rooms were occupied at the time of the fire, but all the occupants were evacuated safely.

Hahn said she hoped that at least part of the motel could be reopened by next weekend.

Authorities estimate the damage to be about $500,000.

Officials are still trying to determine the cause of the fire. Larry Hahn, Joan Hahn's husband, suspects the neon sign mounted at the end of the motel may have ignited the blaze.

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