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Cause of Thumper Pond Lodge roof collapse still unknown; major renovation planned

Damage can be seen at the Thumper Pond Lodge Wednesday, April 15 in Ottertail after the roof over the waterpark collapsed around midnight.

Investigators still haven't determined what caused an April 14 collapse of the roof over the waterpark and spa at Thumper Pond Lodge, but plans are in the works for a major renovation of the lodge found in the middle of an evergreen forest in Ottertail, General Manager Brad Stevens said.

"The cause of the collapse is still under investigation," he said. "We're still working through that. At the same time, we've actually started working with new design firms to look at the rebuilding process."

A 120-foot section of the roof collapsed about 11:55 p.m. April 14. That part of the resort was empty at that time, and nobody was injured.

Guests at the 78-room lodge were relocated to area hotels while first responders and, later, construction specialists and cleanup crews started assessing and cleaning up the damage.

"The resort is fully open and functional, minus a waterpark and spa at this time," Stevens said.

"We are back in business and ready for the summer season. At the same time, (we're) just working through a new design, new concept, for what it looks like moving forward."

The Thumper Pond Lodge and waterpark complex was built in one of the areas of Minnesota where inspections for enforcement of general structural and fire safety codes are not required, Scott McLellan, director of construction codes and licensing for the state Department of Labor and Industry, said shortly after the roof collapse.

Neither the city of Ottertail nor Otter Tail County employ building inspectors.

A 2004 application for a building permit in Ottertail said that the partners in Thumper Pond Inc. would "provide an experienced building inspector."

The Northern Hideaway Indoor Waterpark, with its three-story tower and two slides, was opened in 2006, Stevens said in a news release after the roof collapse.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including K-12 education, Fargo city government, criminal justice, and military affairs. He is currently one of The Forum's business reporters.

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