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Greenwood Fire closes Highways; information meeting tonight

Ely Echo - Staff Photo -

The U.S. Forest Service has called in air support from around the country and Ontario as the Greenwood Fire threatens homes and cabins near McDougal Lake off Highway 1.
There are also homes and cabins along Lake County Highway 2 and State Highway 1 near the Happy Wanderer under evacuation procedures. As of Wednesday 75 homes/cabins have been evacuated.
Highway 2 was closed Monday afternoon from Highway 1 to Greenwood Lake. The fire is just south of this area and there were strong south winds driving the smoke.
MnDOT and State Patrol in coordination with the US Forest Service Closed Hwy 1 near Isabella due to the Greenwood Fire. The road will be closed on eastbound Hwy 1 at New Tomahawk Road to allow traffic to go back to Babbitt or turn around. Westbound Hwy 1 will be closed at Wanless Road in Isabella to allow traffic to use forest highway roads or turn around.
Lake County and the Forest Service are coordinating response to the fire which took off Sunday afternoon in high winds.
As of Wednesday night, the Greenwood Fire is approximately 4,000 acres in size and showing growth on the westside of the fire. Structure protection is in place along the Highway 2 corridor. Additional crews have arrived to help battle the blaze. The Forest Service has focused on an air attack but is now building fire lines using bulldozers to try to contain the blaze.
A public information meeting is scheduled for Thursday night at the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland. It will be broadcast on the Superior National Forest’s Facebook page.
SUMMARY: The Greenwood Fire was detected on August 15, 2021, around 3 pm on the Laurentian Ranger District. The fire is near Greenwood Lake and approximately 15 miles southwest of Isabella, MN and estimated to be around 3,200 acres. Crews are responding with full suppression using ground resources and aircraft. The fire is threatening cabins, homes, and recreational sites. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.
The Eastern Area Type 2 Incident Management Gold Team, with Incident Commander Brian Pisarek, assumed command of the fire this morning at 6:00 am. There are currently 42 personnel, two helicopters, one fixed wing aircraft, eight engines, two dozers, and two tracked vehicles assigned to the fire with additional firefighting personnel on order.
Today, crews will begin building fireline on the south end of the fire near Greenwood lake. Aircraft will continue to limit fire spread to the north and monitor the fire growth along the western side. Fire personnel will look for suppression opportunities on both the eastern and western sides of the fire. Additional fire suppression engines and crews will arrive today to expand suppression efforts today and tonight. A public meeting will be held Thursday night at 6:00 pm at the Wolf Ridge Environmental Center in Finland. It will be broadcast on FaceBook as well.
WEATHER: Warmer weather is expected to continue the next three days with today’s temperature expected to reach 90 degrees. Humidity is expected to rise into the high 30 percent range and winds will continue out of the south. Active fire behavior is expected today.
SAFETY & EVACUATIONS: Lake County Sheriff’s office evacuation orders are in effect for McDougal Lake, Sand Lake, the Highway 2 corridor, and just north of Highway 1. For information regarding evacuations contact Lake County Emergency Management at 773-844-6449. You can sign up for emergency text alerts and calls from Lake County here: A Red Cross shelter is now up and running at the Finland Community Center for those who have been evacuated. If you need shelter, you can contact the shelter manager at 425- 677-5776.
CLOSURES: Highway 2 is closed from Forest Hwy 11 to Hwy 1. Highway 1 is closed from New Tomahawk Rd to Lankinen Rd.
FOREST CLOSURES: A Forest Service closure order is in place to protect public health and safety due to the Greenwood Fire. It extends across areas within the Kawishiwi, Laurentian and Tofte Ranger Districts and a small portion of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. To see the full Forest order and other alerts go to:
FIRE INFORMATION: For Greenwood Fire information, visit Inciweb at: or call 218-499-9441. For all other fires on the Superior National Forest, please call 218-214-7844.
AIR QUALITY: The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air quality alert effective until 3 p.m. on Friday, August 20, for the inland portion of Minnesota’s Lake County. The affected area includes Stony River Township and Fall Lake Township. For air quality information, visit MPCA’s Air Quality Index webpage.
BWCAW CLOSURE UPDATE: BWCAW Permits in the Crooked Lake/Iron Lake closure area have been cancelled until August 27 due to increased fire activity near the border.
West Zone Fires:
Bunggee, Fourtown Lake, and Sundial South Fires: All three fires are located within the BWCAW closure area. The Fourtown Lake Fire was first detected on July 25 approximately 12 miles N of Ely. The fire continues to stay in containment lines at 265-acres. Six firefighters continue to mop up and further secure lines. The Bungee and Sundial fires remain the same size, 3.5-acres and a quarter acre respectively, and show no fire activity. Both fires will be continuously monitored by air.
Little Lake Road Fire: The Little Lake Road Fire was detected late on August 16. The fire is located approximately three miles SW of the Ely Airport along Little Lake Road. It was observed in thick heavy timber is a half-acre in size. A Forest Service engine will continue to secure the fire line and mop up.
One Pine Fire: The One Pine Fire was spotted by a local fisherman in the early afternoon of August 16. The fisherman called 911 and used a bucket to pour water on the fire until firefighters arrived. The fire was contained and controlled at one tenth of an acre. This will be the last report of the One Pine Fire.
East Zone Fires:
Whelp Fire: This lightning-caused fire, is four miles NW of Sawbill Lake in a remote area of the wilderness. Aircraft successfully targeted this fire yesterday with water drops and kept it within its current footprint of 10-20 acres. No fire-fighting crews have been sent in due to difficult access, limited aircraft resources, and safety concerns. Aircraft continue to perform water drops to suppress this fire as we gather information. A Closure Order for the Louse River area is in effect, see closure section below for details. There are wilderness ranger crews paddling the Louse River to sweep visitors from the area.
John Elk Fire: The John Elk Fire started with a lightning strike and is approximately three-acres in size. It is in a remote area of the Wilderness, 2.5 miles south of Little Saganaga Lake. Aircraft successfully targeted this fire yesterday with water drops and prevented further growth. No fire-fighting crews have been sent in due to difficult access, limited aircraft resources, and safety concerns. Crews will be put on the ground to fight this fire as soon as possible when conditions are safe.
Clara Island Fire: This fire is located 10 miles NNW of Lutsen, outside of the Wilderness. It was discovered on an island on August 12 and is the result of an illegal campfire. This fire continues to show some heat and smoke but remains contained to the island. Crews will be setting up a sprinkler system today to cool the fire and aircraft will continue to perform water drops.
Pelt Lake, Tomlinson, and Homestead Fires: These small fires (one-acre or less) started outside the Wilderness that are now contained and controlled. They will continue to be monitored daily.
Canada Fires: Quetico Provincial Park is managing several fires burning across the international border from the BWCAW. Three of those fires have potential to spread into the US near Crooked and Iron lakes.
Fire activity continues to remain very active in Canada due to dry weather and breezy winds. Fire growth has been mainly towards the north due to south winds. The Forest is conducting daily monitoring flights over the fires and coordinating with counterparts in Ontario. For more information on the fires in Ontario and for an interactive fire map visit:
Air Quality: The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air quality alert effective until 3 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 20, for the inland portion of Minnesota’s Lake County. For more information on current air quality conditions in your area and to sign up for daily air quality forecasts visit MPCA’s Air Quality Index webpage.
Closures: There are three closures in place throughout the Superior National Forest: the Whelp Fire closure, the Greenwood Fire closure, and the Crooked Lake area closure. For details, visit the Superior National Forest webpage. With continued fires and a shortage of firefighting resources, these closures allow firefighters to focus on existing fires or new starts without worrying about public safety.
Fire Restrictions: Due to continued long-term drought conditions and limited fire-fighting resources, the Superior National Forest is not allowing campfires within the Forest boundary on National Forest lands, including the BWCAW. Propane devices with an on/off switch are permitted, including lanterns, stoves, and firepits. Please see Fire Restrictions Order and our Campfire Restrictions FAQ for more information.

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