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Fire destroys pheasant lodge in rural Armour

This hunting lodge in rural Armour was destroyed by fire Thursday. (Anna Jauhola/The Daily Republic)1 / 4
This hunting lodge in rural Armour was destroyed by fire Thursday. (Anna Jauhola/The Daily Republic)2 / 4
This hunting lodge in rural Armour was destroyed by fire Thursday. (Anna Jauhola/The Daily Republic)3 / 4
A group of hunters sits in a lounge area of the South Dakota Pheasant Acres lodge near Armour. In the background is a habitat created by owner James "Doc" Monfore using animals he and his family harvested in years prior. It was a unique feature of the lodge, which was destroyed by fire Thursday morning. (Photo courtesy of South Dakota Pheasant Acres)4 / 4

ARMOUR — Fire destroyed a hunting lodge Thursday morning in rural Armour.

James “Doc” Monfore and his employees had recently finished remodeling the lodge, which gave guests at South Dakota Pheasant Acres a place to relax from a long day of hunting. Despite it being insured, Monfore said much of what was inside is irreplaceable.

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“We had an antique bar in there from the 1800s,” he said. “A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into that place.”

“There was also a panorama of wildlife that Doc built,” added Donna Jensen, an employee. “It had deer and other animals he and his children and grandchildren got and looked like a habitat.”

The lodge provided hunters with a bar, dining room and recreation area, and had a full kitchen.

General Manager Marty Jensen said the owners spent $50,000 to remodel the building. Now it’s a complete loss.

Jensen said a group of hunters left the lodge around 2 a.m. Thursday and left the fireplace burning. Although they can’t be sure, Jensen said the fireplace could be the source of the fire.

The Corsica Fire Department was on scene first around 5 a.m. Soon afterward, Armour, Geddes, Delmont, Lake Andes and Lakeview Colony fire departments arrived to fight the fire. But it was too late, Jensen said.

Monfore bought his land in 1977 and started the lodge in 1980. Through the years, Monfore has replanted native grasses, trees and bushes to create a preserve. There are about 3,600 acres around the lodge.

It was a sad day for everyone involved in the operation, but Jensen, Monfore and minority owners are already talking about rebuilding.

Chris Coborn, president and CEO of Coborn’s grocery stores, is a minority owner and was at the lodge Thursday when the incident occurred.

Monfore said Coborn and other investors love the lodge and have mentioned they want to help rebuild it.

“They believe in what we’re doing,” Jensen said.

Monfore said when the lodge is rebuilt, it will be as close to the original as possible.

Jensen added that the lodge will likely cost between $500,000 and $750,000 to rebuild.