By Bill Hudson

BLAINE, Minn. (WCCO) — The Ole Piper Inn in Blaine, Minn., was preparing to celebrate its silver anniversary.

But an early Friday morning fire has put more than 50 employees out of work as the owners plan to rebuild. Owner Paul Spitzley had just remodeled the business four years ago.

Debe North-Cover and Susie Ferguson could only gaze in disbelief at the business that had become like family.

At 3:30 a.m. their jobs went up in smoke.

Firefighters were called to the Ole Piper Inn a half hour after the last employee had gone home. That’s when smoke began billowing from the roof.

By daybreak a peak inside revealed a charred, wet, smoky mess.

Investigators say the fire is not suspicious, and it likely started in the kitchen or nearby storage area. Customers kept dropping by throughout the day, unaware what had happened.

Now the popular bar starts a road to recovery, hoping the customers they’re losing will someday be back.


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