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No. 3 - Hillcrest Apartment building destroyed by fire

Twelve families lost their homes Sept. 27 when a fire destroyed the Hillcrest Apartment building in south Brainerd, leaving 20 people without.

All the families were able to escape to safety and were offered emergency shelter at the Brainerd Lakes Hotel. The American Red Cross, Bridges of Hope, the Brainerd Salvation Army and the community assisted the families in their time of need. Since the fire, the families have found new homes.

Brainerd Fire Chief Kevin Stunek said the fire was caused by a cigarette butt container that melted onto a deck of the second floor unit of the apartment. The fire was investigated by the fire department, the state fire marshal and insurance investigators.

The fire destroyed 12 units at the apartment and the estimated loss is $1 million.

More than 50 firefighters from Brainerd, Crosby and Nisswa battled the fire and Brainerd police, the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Department, North Memorial Ambulance and the DNR assisted at the scene. Upon arrival, the apartment building was fully engulfed in flames and heavy smoke. The fire, which was reported at 2:51 p.m., was contained around 4:33 p.m. and firefighters stayed on scene throughout the night.

Kris Peterson, owner of the apartment building with Diversified Property Rentals, said in November that the plan is to demolish the damaged apartment building by the end of the year. Peterson said if the weather cooperates they’d like to rebuild the apartment in the spring of 2013.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at