A fast-moving wildfire in the parched woodlands of northeastern Minnesota threatened cabins, homes and recreational sites on Thursday as hundreds of firefighters fought to contain it.
The Greenwood fire, in the Superior National Forest not far from the Canadian border, has burned about 25,000 acres since it began on Aug. 15, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The fire was started by lightning, the authorities said.
Evacuation orders are in effect for several areas including McDougal Lake, Sand Lake, and areas along Highway 2 and north of Highway 1. The fire destroyed 12 primary structures and 57 outbuildings earlier this week, the Lake County Sheriff’s office said. Crews used heavy machinery on Wednesday to build a fire line along the part of the fire to the west of Highway 2.
The Greenwood fire and others in the region are causing air-quality problems across a wide area, according to the National Weather Service.
“Smoke from the Greenwood fire in northeast Minnesota and fires in Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park is currently impacting northern Wisconsin and is expected to slowly spread east-southeast today,” the service said on Thursday, adding that children, older adults and people with respiratory or cardiac issues should avoid all strenuous outdoor activities in the affected area.
“Keep windows closed and limit outside activities,” the National Weather Service said in a tweet.
Rain showers and thunderstorms were expected to move into the region on Thursday and continue on and off throughout the weekend, the Weather Service said.
Though Minnesota is dotted with lakes, severe to exceptional drought conditions related to climate change have ravaged much of the state this summer, as they have in areas across the Northern Plains and Western United States, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Drought restrictions were imposed in parts of Minnesota last week, limiting or banning activities like lawn watering.