Minnesota Latest State to Issue Evacuation Orders Due to Wildfire

Minnesota is the latest state to issue evacuation orders due to the spread of a wildfire in the state's northeastern region in the Superior National Forest, the Associated Press reported.

The fire is near Greenwood Lake and grew to around 3.1 square miles by Tuesday. Around 75 residences were under evacuation orders, the U.S. Forest Service said, as Lake County sheriff's deputies and emergency management personnel arrived at people's homes to tell them to evacuate.

The wildfire was reported on Sunday and the state's National Guard was deployed that night by Governor Tim Walz.

Walz said in a statement that the National Guard's support "will be critical to responding to these wildfires."

The Minnesota National Guard’s support will be critical to responding to these wildfires and protecting Minnesotans. This follows months of @mndnr-led efforts to combat wildfires. I'm proud and grateful to our Service Members and the Minnesota DNR for answering the call. https://t.co/rmv0pVfOtY

— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) August 16, 2021

The cause of the fire had not been determined, according to Superior National Forest officials.

"This summer, Minnesota has experienced abnormally high temperatures and a historic drought resulting in dry conditions conducive to wildfires," Walz said in another statement.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Minnesota Wildfire Grows
A rapidly growing wildfire in northeastern Minnesota has prompted some evacuations, the U.S. Forest Service said Monday. This photo taken Sunday was provided by the U.S. Forest Service-Superior National Forest. Nick Petrack/Forest Service-Superior National Forest via AP

On Tuesday, crews fought the fire on the ground and from the air.

Residents in the evacuation zone were along McDougal Lakes, the Highway 2 corridor near Sand Lake and just north of Highway 1.

The fire was initially spotted around 3 p.m. Sunday. Dangers are expected to remain high over the next several days.

The lake is about 15 miles (24 kilometers) southwest of Isabella.

Byron Boler, a co-owner of Snowshoe Country Lodge on Sand Lake, told WTIP-FM in Grand Marais that he was doing outdoor chores Sunday afternoon when he spotted a "big cloud of smoke billowing up" about a quarter-mile southeast of his property and reported it. He said planes were soon scooping up water from nearby lakes and dumping it on the fire.

"If the wind would have turned at all, we would have lost a lot of land," he said.

The smoke prompted the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to issue an air quality alert for the inland portion of Lake County. The MPCA said southerly winds were expected over the region for the next few days and would transport the smoke plume north.

The Superior National Forest is also monitoring two new, lightning-caused fires that are burning in remote parts of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to the northeast. A fire west of Sawbill Lake had grown to 10 acres (4 hectares), while another south of Little Saganaga Lake was around 2 acres (0.8 hectares). Aircraft were dropping water to try to limit their spread.

Drought conditions from the western U.S. across the northern plains to Minnesota have raised wildfire risks across a broad swath of the country. In California, firefighters have struggled to contain the month-old Dixie Fire amid forecasts of more dangerous weather. That fire has scorched more than 900 square miles (2,331 square kilometers) in the northern Sierra Nevada and southern Cascades since it ignited on July 13 and eventually merged with a smaller blaze called the Fly Fire.

There were nearly 100 large wildfires currently burning in the U.S. according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Firefighter Using Hose to Combat Hot Spots
Minnesota is the latest state to issue evacuation orders due to a wildfire that was reported Sunday. Above, San Jose firefighter Ryan Godoy uses a hose to extinguish hot spots while battling the Dixie Fire on August 12, 2021, near Westwood, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images