The sudden burst of hot, windy and dry weather set the stage for wildfire weather as crews from Wisconsin and Minnesota worked to contain the fires burning in cabin country Tuesday night into Wednesday.
GREEN VALLEY FIRE (MENAHGA, MINN.)
The Green Valley Fire started on private property northwest of Menahga, Minn. around 3 p.m. Tuesday. The fire is estimated at 3,000 to 4,000 acres, with strong winds and dry conditions contributing to the fire spread.
Wednesday morning, the Minnesota DNR said the fire is zero percent contained and private lands, homes, cabins and other buildings are at risk. An unconfirmed number of homes and other structures have already been destroyed.
The Minnesota National Guard has sent two Blackhawk helicopters with 600 gallon buckets and a Chinook helicopter with a 2,000 gallon bucket.
On Wednesday, fire crews will focus their efforts on protecting threatened structures and containing the fire using heavy equipment and air resources. Crews will also "mop up" around threatened structures and inside the perimeter where possible.
RED FLAG WARNING
A Red Flag Fire Warning is in effect until 9 p.m. Wednesday for NE Minnesota due to low humidity, strong winds and warm temperatures.
Highway 71 between Park Rapids and Menahga is closed between County Road 87 to the north and Main Street in Menahga to the south. Traffic is being redirected along alternate routes. Additional closures may be possible throughout the day.
DOUGLAS COUNTY, WISCONSIN FIRE
Firefighters in northwestern Wisconsin are in their second day battling the largest forest fire to hit the region in 33 years.
Tuesday afternoon, the Wisconsin DNR was alerted to the fire near the towns of Wascott and Barnes. The fire sent up plumes of smoke that could be seen 40 miles away in Duluth.
By 7 a.m. Wednesday, the Germann Road Fire had burned 8,700 acres in Douglas and Bayfield counties. The fire was 90 percent contained, by hot, dry and windy conditions Wednesday are keeping the fire risk high.
With wind out of the northwest, our concern has been the southern and eastern flanks of the fire," said Wisconsin DNR incident commander Larry Gladowski. "We should have control shortly."
Follow the Wisconsin fire updates at http://bit.ly/142MblE
Residents were evacuated from Loon Lake, Sand Lake, Murray Lake, Potowatomi Estates, Rock Lake, Beauregard Lake, Catherine Lake, Ellison Lake and the Village of Barnes.
The evacuation center is located at Drummond High School. The Red Cross and state emergency management officials are making arrangements for the evacuees. As of 7 a.m., there were 59 evacuees registered at Drummond High School and 22 people occupied cots overnight.
The evacuation orders are being reported online by the National Weather Service's Weather Forecast Office in Duluth. Click here for current information: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/dlh/
RED LAKE FIRES
The Minnesota DNR said the two fires at Red Lake burned actively but the small amount of rain earlier Tuesday kept the Buffalo Ranch Fire from spreading.
The total acreage was reduced to 4,900 acres after more accurate mapping.
The Incident Management Team that was in place at Red Lake was moved to the Green Valley fire at Menahga.
The Minnesota DNR is reminding residents that open burning remains restricted across much of the state. While campfires are still allowed, they should be tended cautiously due to the high winds and dry weather.
- Campfires must be no larger by 3-feet tall by 3-feet wide
- Keep a water source handy while burning
- Monitor the campfire at all times
- Douse the flames and ensure the coals are cold to the touch before leaving
To safely extinguish a campfire, the DNR recommends drowning the flames in water, stirring the slurry and then drenching it again.
Anyone who sees a spreading fire is urged to call 911 immediately and refrain from trying to extinguish it on their own.