Minnesota wildfire jumps highway, triggers more evacuations

Aug 20, 2021, 8:27 AM | Updated: 4:34 pm
An aircraft drops red fire retardant onto the Greenwood Fire, about 50 miles north of Duluth, Minn....

An aircraft drops red fire retardant onto the Greenwood Fire, about 50 miles north of Duluth, Minn., Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, as seen from an airplane above the temporary flight restriction zone. (Alex Korman/Star Tribune via AP)

(Alex Korman/Star Tribune via AP)

FINLAND, Minn. (AP) — Authorities fighting a northeastern Minnesota wildfire ordered additional evacuations Friday after the blaze jumped a highway before an anticipated shift in the wind this weekend that could put more properties in danger.

The U.S. Forest Service sent in ground crews and water-dropping aircraft after the Greenwood Fire crossed over to the west side of Lake County Highway 2, just north of Stony Lake. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office was evacuating residents from the Stony Lake and Sand Lake areas near where Highway 2 intersects with Minnesota Highway 1.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many people were affected, Superior National Forest spokeswoman Joanna Gilkeson said. The area is dotted with seasonal cabins and some year-round residences. Earlier in the week, authorities evacuated around 90 residents from the McDougal Lake area.

The Forest Service also ordered an expanded closure of part of the southern Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) to the northeast, due to a blaze called the Whelp Fire, which has grown to 35 to 40 acres (14 to 16 hectares.) The closure includes the popular Sawbill entry point for overnight trips, though it remains open for day trips. No ground crews have been sent in because that fire is in a remote spot, so water scooping planes and helicopters were hitting it from the air. Ranger crews were paddling the area to search for visitors.

Forest Service officials warned home and cabin owners at a public meeting Thursday evening in the small town of Finland that the winds could shift this weekend, putting their properties in danger, Minnesota Public Radio reported Friday.

The fire has grown to 7.4 square miles (19 square kilometers) since it was first spotted Sunday. The Forest Service says it was caused by lightening. Around 200 firefighters are now working on the blaze, coming from as far away as Mississippi and Colorado. So far it has burned mostly north and west into the forest, and no structures have burned.

The concern now is a cold front expected Saturday, something that incident commander Brian Pisarek said was keeping him up at night. He told the crowd that the front is expected to bring strong winds from the northwest, which could push the fire aggressively to the east, toward homes.

“The big unknown is this system coming through, is it going to be wet? If it comes through wet, and we get three-quarters of an inch of rain on it, and that happens before the wind, we’re golden,” he said.

But if the winds pick up and it doesn’t rain, Pisarek said, the fire could get out of control quickly.

“I don’t want to give illusions that this is going to be a good weekend for us,” he said. “It’s going to be tough.”

Drought conditions in western states, which extend as far east as Minnesota, are fueling around 100 wildfires. California has already surpassed the acreage burned at this point last year, which ended up setting the record. In northeastern Minnesota, heat, low humidity and a tinder-dry forest have fueled the Greenwood Lake fire, which is about 15 miles (24 kilometers) west of the small town of Isabella.

“It’s the summer from hell, for watching the forest get compromised,” said Doug Lande, who lives on an area farm.

On Wednesday, winds pushed the fire directly toward his property. Lande, a former firefighter, said aircraft likely saved his house by dumping water and fire retardant all around it.

“They slurried the house with retardant and about 20 acres around the farmstead. That lasts only so long. Now, I’m wondering when the next run of the fire will be at the house.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              The Greenwood Fire, about 50 miles north of Duluth, Minn., continues to burn, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, as seen from an airplane above the temporary flight restriction zone. (Alex Korman/Star Tribune via AP)
            
              An Aircraft drops water scooped from nearby Sand Lake onto the Greenwood Fire , about 50 miles north of Duluth, Minn., Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, as seen from an airplane above the temporary flight restriction zone. (Alex Korman/Star Tribune via AP)
            
              Aircrafts scoop up water from Sand Lake to drop onto the nearby Greenwood Fire, about 50 miles north of Duluth, Minn., Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, as seen from an airplane above the temporary flight restriction zone. (Alex Korman/Star Tribune via AP)
            
              An Aircraft drops water scooped from nearby Sand Lake onto the Greenwood Fire , about 50 miles north of Duluth, Minn., Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, as seen from an airplane above the temporary flight restriction zone. (Alex Korman/Star Tribune via AP)
            
              An aircraft drops red fire retardant onto the Greenwood Fire, about 50 miles north of Duluth, Minn., Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, as seen from an airplane above the temporary flight restriction zone. (Alex Korman/Star Tribune via AP)
            Smoke rises above the Superior National Forest as the Greenwood Fire burns through towards Highway 2 on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, in Duluth, Minn. The wildfire has continued to grow and spread towards the northeast as firefighters battle the flames from both the ground and air. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP) Smoke rises above the Superior National Forest as the Greenwood Fire burns through towards Highway 2 towards the northeast on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, in Duluth, Minn. The wildfire has continued to grow and spread towards the northeast as firefighters battle the flames from both the ground and air. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP) A helicopter drops fire retardant on a portion of the Greenwood Fire near Highway 2 as it moves northeast on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, in Duluth, Minn. The wildfire has continued to grow and spread towards the northeast as firefighters battle the flames from both the ground and air. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP) Planes circle the Greenwood Fire as they scoop water from Sand Lake and drop it on the wildfire as it moves northeast on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, in Duluth, Minn. The wildfire has continued to grow and spread towards the northeast as firefighters battle the flames from both the ground and air. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP) 
              This Aug. 15, 2021, photo provided by U.S. Forest Service-Superior National Forest shows a rapidly growing wildfire in northeastern Minnesota that has prompted some evacuations, the U.S. Forest Service said Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. The fire was spotted around 3 p.m. Sunday near Greenwood Lake, about 15 miles southwest of Isabella, in the Superior National Forest. (Nick Petrack/Forest Service-Superior National Forest via AP)

AP

This photo provided by Budweiser shows a scene from Budweiser's 2023 Super Bowl NFL football ad. Br...
Associated Press

For Super Bowl ads this year, crypto is out, booze is in

NEW YORK (AP) — The hottest ticket in town for advertisers is officially sold out. Fox said Monday that in-game ads for Super Bowl LVII have all been sold. The big game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles takes place on Sunday. The Super Bowl is advertising’s biggest stage, with advertisers jockeying […]
19 hours ago
FILE -- A man walks out of a vaccination bus at a mobile vaccine clinic in Midtown Manhattan, Dec. ...
Associated Press

NYC ending COVID-19 vaccination mandate for city employees

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City, which once had the nation’s strictest workplace vaccination rules for COVID-19, is ending one of its last such mandates, saying it will no longer require the shots for municipal employees including police officers, firefighters and teachers. The vaccine mandate, which led to the firing of hundreds of city […]
19 hours ago
British Chancellor Jeremy Hunt gestures before speaking to the media at Victoria Place Shopping Cen...
Associated Press

Britcoin? UK gets closer to launching a digital currency

LONDON (AP) — Britcoin is moving closer to reality. U.K. authorities on Monday said British businesses and consumers are likely to need a digital version of the pound, formally asking for public comment on the idea of introducing a central bank digital currency. Britain, home to the world’s second-biggest financial center, is trailing former colonies […]
19 hours ago
FILE - A sign is shown on a Google building at their campus in Mountain View, Calif., Sept. 24, 201...
Associated Press

Google hopes ‘Bard’ will outsmart ChatGPT, Microsoft in AI

Google is girding for a battle of wits in the field of artificial intelligence with “Bard,” a conversational service apparently aimed at countering the popularity of the ChatGPT tool backed by Microsoft. Bard initially will be available exclusively to a group of “trusted testers” before being widely released later this year, according to a Monday […]
19 hours ago
Lizzo performs a medley at the 65th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, in Los Angeles. (...
Associated Press

Grammys rebound from COVID years, reach 12.4 million viewers

NEW YORK (AP) — An estimated 12.4 million people tuned in to watch stars Harry Styles, Lizzo and Bad Bunny perform at the Grammy Awards, along with a tribute to 50 years of rap history. That’s up from the pandemic-affected broadcasts of the last two years, the Nielsen company said on Monday. Live viewership was […]
19 hours ago
FILE - A walkway leading into the school in Wales, Alaska, where a 24-year-old woman and her 1-year...
Associated Press

Polar bear in fatal Alaska attack was in poor health

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A polar bear that killed a young mother and her baby last month in western Alaska was likely an older animal in poor physical condition, but tests came back negative for pathogens that affect the brain and cause aggressive behavior, officials said. Dr. Kimberlee Beckmen, a state wildlife veterinarian, collected and […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Minnesota wildfire jumps highway, triggers more evacuations