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PRIOR LAKE, Minn. – An early morning fire destroyed a local landmark and derailed New Year's Eve plans for dozens of residents.

The Minnesota Horse and Hunt Club restaurant was a total loss in the fire.

The first alarm of the fire was issued at 6:04 a.m. on Tuesday. It was an automatic burglar alarm that fire officials believe was triggered by the flames. Firefighters said there was nothing they could do to save the remote and rustic structure.

"On our arrival, the structure's fully involved in fire, all the way through the building," said Doug Hartman, Prior Lake Fire Chief. "So, we set up for a defensive attack right of way. It's been a defensive attack all morning."

All local residents and club staff could do was look on and mourn their loss.

"There are a lot of people that come out here," said Bob Fitzgerald, Lock, Stock and Barrell Gunsmith. "You know, some days, the place you cannot even get in the parking lot, it's so full of stuff, people. It is going to be a blow I'm sure."

General Manager Terry Correll was one of the first staff on the scene, but was helpless to save the club's computers and memorabilia.

"As soon as we get through this tragedy and get our business going to normal as of Friday, we're still going to be running our outdoor business and then we'll have game plan on how we're going to rebuild and restructure and go from there, but you know it is a huge loss to lose our clubhouse after all these years, but, we are not going out of business. We will just stay, stay going and provide an outdoor recreation facility and a restaurant as well."

Correll said the rest of the 600 acre facility will remain open for business, including the Pheasant event planned for the weekend. Anyone with questions can call the Club at their usual number.

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