Arson suspected in 4-H bunkhouse fire at state forest campground near Zimmerman

A fire over the weekend destroyed a 4-H bunk house near Zimmerman, Minn., sending the historic building up in smoke as investigators look for the arsonist they believe is responsible for the blaze.

Nobody was injured as a result of the incident, though all that remains of the New Deal-era bunk at Ann Lake Campground in the Sand Dune State Forest are bedframes twisted from the heat, ashes and memories.

"It's so much worse in person," said Camp Board Member Jeremy Wheeler. "I’m mostly numb. I look at it and I don’t believe it."

The building was constructed nearly seventy years ago and moved to its current location two decades later, housing youth programs and mostly boys for the half-century that followed.

The fire marshal said the fact that there were no combustibles where the blaze started led them to believe it was started intentionally. Another fire started nearly 20 feet away after someone apparently dragged the bunk's mattresses outside.

In addition, a caretaker reported a break-in at the bunk just three hours before the fire started, but authorities say they believe the two incidents were the result of separate people or groups.

Officials are asking the public to call the Minnesota Arson Hotline at 800-723-2020 with information. You can also submit tips online at

This week happens to be Arson Awareness Week. For more information on how to prevent arson fires, click here: