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Bjerknes to plead guilty to state and federal charges

Fire at 71 Bar causes extensive damage

Firefighters arrive at the scene of a fire at the 71 Bar and Grill early Thursday morning. Photo courtesy Bemidji Fire Department. 1 / 2
An overnight fire caused extensive damage at the 71 Bar in Turtle River. Photo courtesy Walt Lindahl.2 / 2

BEMIDJI – A fire at the 71 Bar and Grill caused an estimated $155,000 worth of damage early Thursday morning, but no injuries were reported.

The Bemidji Fire Department said in a release that they got the call at about 2:30 a.m. from a passing motorist for a fire at the bar, which is located at 468 Bemidji Road NW.

Bar office manager Amanda Anderson said the structure remained, but the kitchen, office and back liquor room were destroyed, and there is some smoke and heat damage in the first level of the building, including in the bar area.

 “Our hopes are to rebuild it and make it better than before,” she said. Anderson added that they had done some remodeling within the last year.

Owner Chase Fleahman said there’s “no doubt” that they’d re-open, but he wasn’t sure when that would be.

He said Thursday afternoon that the community has been very supportive.

“This is a very tight-knit community,” he said.

Mary Jo Christenson, a co-owner of the nearby 71 Mart, said the restaurant is a “central point” for people that are going fishing or golfing in the area.

“It’s a sad thing,” she said. “It’s been there so long.”

It took 37 firefighters, three fire engines, one ladder truck and four water tankers to put out the blaze. The fire department was on the scene for about 10 hours.

The fire is under investigation, but it appears to be accidental, according to the release.

Fishing Tourney moved

The Squirrel’s Memorial Walleye Tournament has been moved to the Other Place this weekend due to the 71 Bar and Grill fire. Times will remain the same: 7 p.m. Friday for the rules meeting and 7 p.m. Saturday for the awards.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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