ISABELLA - About 344 personnel remain on the ground fighting the Greenwood Fire, which was at 49% containment as of Tuesday morning.
The fire, which was started by lightning in mid-August, has burned approximately 26,112 acres in the Isabella area but has seen no growth for about a week, since favorable weather and cooler temps moved into northern Minnesota.
Fire officials said via press release that the objective remains full suppression and that on Tuesday crews were set to patrol and mop up along Highway 2, extinguishing any pockets of heat they find. Along the southern and eastern fire perimeter, crews wanted to patrol and secure the fire edge with direct handline construction.
Tracked equipment was set to be used where feasible and crews were going to be cleaning up along Highway 1 where masticators were used to reduce the fuel load earlier in the incident.
Monday, firefighters patrolled and mopped up along Highway 2, paying particular attention to an unburned island of fuel near the southwestern fire edge. They continued to secure the southern and eastern fire perimeters with handlines and mechanical lines. Crews scouted along the Highway 1 corridor and mopped up any remaining hot spots.
It was also expected that a surface storm system and cold front would be over the Isabella region Tuesday with numerous showers and thunderstorms. With rainfall amounts predicted to range from a tenth to a quarter of an inch and higher, temperatures in the mid-60s, no significant fire spread was expected
On Monday, according to the press release, Lake County Sheriff lifted evacuations for primary residential homeowners along Highway 1,and opened Highway1 from Lankinen Rd to the junction with Highway 2 to those full-time residents only. Passes will be issued to homeowners at the checkpoint.
The McDougal Lake area remains closed.
• Hwy 1 is closed from New Tomahawk Rd to Lankinen Rd.
• Highway 2 is closed between Highway 1 to Highway 11. Only residents with passes issued by the Sheriff’s Office may travel along these highways.
• A Forest Service closure order is in place to protect public health and safety due to the Greenwood Fire. It extends across the Kawishiwi, Laurentian, and TofteRanger Districts. On Sept. 1 the closure order was updated to allow use of Stony Spur Trail and a portion of Prospector Loop Trail which allows ATVs to travel safely from Babbitt to Ely.
• A Temporary Flight Restriction for aircraft is in place over the fire area.
• Superior National Forest lands and roads along the upper portion of the Gunflint Trail are closed due to fires in the vicinity. The closure includes all forest lands and roads along Cook County 12/Gunflint Trail beginning at the Cook County 92 intersection to the end of the Gunflint Trail. Trails End and Iron Lake campgrounds are in the closure area.
• Most of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness closure has been lifted, with the exception of the John Ek/Whelp fire closures and entry points associated with the Greenwood Fire and Gunflint Trail Closure.
• Fire restrictions are in place for the Superior National Forest, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for areas within state jurisdiction, as well as Cook, Lake, and St. Louis counties.
John EK Fire
U.S. Forest Service officials said Tuesday that little fire growth has occurred on the John Ek Fire (1,357 acres, 0% contained) the last few days. Crews have completed contingency lines on three sides of the fire (on the north side from Gabimichigami Lake to Tuscarora Lake; on the east side from Little Saganaga Lake to Dent Lake; and on the west side from Little Saganaga Lake to Pan Lake.)
Should the fire become active again, the contingency lines will be used as necessary, including conducting burnouts along them and/or turning on sprinkler systems adjacent to those lines. Structure protection crews are still doing Firewise work (assessing structures, removing debris and thinning fuels near homes) on the south side of the Gunflint Trail, from Poplar Lake to Round Lake and Tuscarora Lodge.
The Whelp Fire (50 acres, 0% contained) is five miles northwest of Sawbill Lake and southeast of the John Ek Fire. On Sunday, crews completed a contingency line along the south side of the fire from Phoebe Lake to Sawbill Campground. Fire managers continue to use air resources to monitor the fire.