Explosion, Fire at North Shore Motel

Posted at: 07/03/2013 2:27 PM
Updated at: 07/03/2013 10:44 PM

An explosion and fire this afternoon at a North Shore motel caused injuries.

The fire was burning at the Lake Breeze Motel on Congdon Boulevard, along the North Shore in Duluth.  Firefighters responded to the scene at 1:40 p.m. When they got there the building was completely engulfed in flames.

Witnesses said they heard an explosion and then saw fire in a building that houses the owner's residence and gift shop, as well as two rental units and a laundromat. 

"I just heard a boom," witness Mark Wegner said. "I didn't know what it was, but then I came out and the flames were starting to come out already."

Duluth Assistant Fire Chief Erik Simonson said two people were inside when the explosion happened. One victim received minor injuries and the other was more seriously hurt.

Witnesses said the victims were co-owner Paula Hughes and her mother in law. They said Hughes had burns on her hands and face.

"I'm thankful that Paula will be okay because life is the most important," witness Mary Wollersheim said. "I'm very sad for their place and just hope Paula will be okay. I hope the burns won't be bad."

At last check, hospital officials said Hughes is in fair condition.

"It's really a shame," Wegner said. "Ken and Paula really have done a ton of work to make this a wonderful place for families to stay. We feel bad for them but we're grateful everyone is safe."

Crews were on the scene for about five hours. The cause is not known, but Simonson said they have no reason to believe it is suspicious.