Minnesota Wildfire Grows to 5 Square Miles, Has Not Damaged Any Structures

A wildfire in northeastern Minnesota grew to five square miles but has not yet caused any injuries or damage to structures, the Associated Press reported.

The U.S. Forest Service has been using water-scooping planes and helicopters to battle the blaze until firefighters on the ground can contain it. They've been fighting the fire since it was first spotted on Sunday afternoon near Greenwood Lake. By Tuesday morning, the fire was over three square miles.

Authorities evacuated nearly 75 homes near McDougal Lake. Many were seasonal cabins deep in the forest. Small portions of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area were closed Tuesday and two smaller fires were seen over the weekend.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Minnesota Wildfire 5 Square Miles
An aircraft drops red fire retardant onto the Greenwood Fire, about 50 miles north of Duluth, Minnesota, on August 17, 2021, as seen from a plane above the temporary flight restriction zone. Alex Korman/Star Tribune/Associated Press

Among the evacuees were 100 sled dogs from White Wilderness Sled Dog Adventures near Isabella. Owner Peter McClelland sent 50 of his dogs to his kennel near Ely and the rest to stay with fellow mushers. He told WDIO-TV on Tuesday that his dogs were taking it in stride.

"The nice thing about the working dog or an animal you work with, you're always used to doing weird things with them and traveling with them and camping with them," McClelland told the station. "And so even though this is something the dogs have never done, they key in on you and they know they can trust you. And I know I can trust them."

Nearly 100 major wildfires are burning across a dozen Western states, including devastating fires that are advancing through Northern California.

The forecast for Wednesday in northeastern Minnesota called for temperatures in the high 80s, gusty winds and low humidity amid the ongoing drought that stretches to the West Coast. There's a chance of severe thunderstorms on Friday night, which would bring rain but also lighting, which is a frequent cause of forest fires in northeastern Minnesota.

Wednesday marked the 10th anniversary of the detection of the largest wildfire to hit Minnesota in more than a century. The Pagami Creek Wildfire was caused by a lightning strike east of Ely in the Boundary Waters. It smoldered in a bog for days before erupting to blacken 145 square miles (375 square kilometers), mostly within the wilderness area, including areas north of the Greenwood Lake fire. It wasn't contained until late November 2011. Nobody was seriously injured. Six firefighters had to take refuge in their small personal fire shelters to survive the rapid advance of the blaze.

Minnesota fire
A wildfire in northeastern Minnesota grew to five square miles but has not yet caused any injuries or damage to structures. Above, a church sign is still legible near the burned remains of the church building on August 8, 2021, in Greenville, California, as a result of the Dixie Fire. (Photo by Maranie R. Staab/Getty Images)