Lightning from storms torches 2 dining spots in small Dorset, Minn.

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 4, 2014 - 8:29 PM

Dorset, in Hubbard County, lost two popular restaurants to fire.


Two longtime institutions burned to the ground in Dorset, Minn., Thursday morning. Companeros and Dorset House burned while their owners sat across the street fighting back tears.

Photo: Sarah Smith, Sarah Smith / Park Rapids Enterprise

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A second wave of severe storms brought heavy rain, large hail and high winds to parts of central Minnesota early Thursday morning, downing trees, damaging homes and setting off a lightning strike that torched two Dorset restaurants.

The Dorset House family restaurant is “100 percent burned to the ground” and the Compañeros restaurant was burned “more than 50 percent” after the building they share caught fire about 4 a.m., said Kathy Schmidt, who operates the general store across the street.

“The lightning went into the roof and into the building and then into the bar” of Compañeros, she added.

Sheriff Cory Aukes described both businesses as “total losses.”

There were no injuries from the fires or other severe weather in the county, according to Sheriff Chief Deputy Scott Parks.

Dorset, population of a couple of dozen or so and with no formal government, playfully bills itself as the “Restaurant Capital of the World,” San Francisco and Paris notwithstanding. It’s also where Bobby Tufts was informally elected mayor two years ago, at age 3.

Elsewhere in the county, a mobile home caught fire less than 90 minutes later about 2 ½ miles west of Park Rapids, Parks said. The home was “considered to be a total loss,” he added.

“Like the restaurants, I can assume that it was lightning-related,” Aukes said. “I haven’t received a report yet from the fire marshal.”

In Hewitt, about an hour from Dorset, a storm sent trees sprawling across Hwy. 210 and blew the roof off a restaurant, according to the National Weather Service.


Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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