Fifty Lakes: Controlled burn offers training for firefighters, makes way for new campground owners
Eleven firefighters in training from Remer and Crooked Lake took turns combatting the purposeful flames of a controlled burn Wednesday, April 4, at the newly named Up a Creek Campground in Fifty Lakes.
The house destroyed in the burn was removed to make room for an updated living space for new campground owner Michelle Fussy and her fiance, Shawn Mauch, who are relocating from Fort Ripley to Fifty Lakes.
Fussy, originally from Pierz, solidified her purchase of the former Fifty Lakes Campground on March 28 and immediately set to work in getting the campground ready for business starting May 1.
"It's been just a lifelong dream of mine," Fussy said of owning a campground. "I was a public health inspector for five years, and I inspected campgrounds. ... Every time I would go to one, I was like, 'Oh, I've got to get one of these.'"
After looking all over Minnesota for several years, Fussy finally landed on Fifty Lakes Campground, even though she admittedly had never been to Fifty Lakes before. But the timing and the location near family and her fiance's job in Brainerd determined it to be the right fit.
"I finally had the equity to do it, so I decided to go for it," Fussy said.
Besides building a new owner's house, Fussy has already added more playground equipment and converted some of the seasonal campsites into weekend sites.
"We saw a need there," she said, noting the area's high demand for weekend campsites in the summer.
Fussy also plans to increase the size of the campground's store and build a new recreation room.
Reservations are already pouring in for Up a Creek Campground, which is open from May 1 to Sept. 30.
Up a Creek Campground is situated on Daggett Creek just off of County Road 1. Fussy said the business' new slogan is "We've got your paddle" because she plans to emphasize the kayaking opportunities on Daggett Creek for her guests, including children.
About 15 firefighters from Fifty Lakes, Crosslake and Emily assisted the 11 trainees in putting out the fire, which was the first live burn experience for the practicing firefighters.
Fifty Lakes Fire Chief Andy Hemphill said the goal of the burn was simply "to get the most training we can out of this structure, and everybody goes home alive."