1,400 acres burn south of Nimrod, Minn.; fire danger still high
Strong northwest winds pushed a wildfire across more than 1,400 acres late Sunday afternoon six miles south of Nimrod.
As of Monday morning the fire was 80 percent contained according to Ron Sanow, fire information officer for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The fire was reported by the DNR lookout tower near Nimrod at 4:03 p.m. by Sandy Wierenga, according to Linda Lilly at the busy DNR Forestry Nimrod Field Station.
According Sanow, the point the fire started was believed to be 1 mile west and 1 ¾ miles north of the intersections of county roads 9 and 26.
No injuries were reported as a result of the fire but an attached garage was gutted and a trailer home, believed to be a hunting cabin, was lost. Sanow said that evacuations were necessary but that all residents were back in their homes by Sunday evening.
The Department of Natural Resources fought the fire using three helicopters and three CL 215 airplanes to fight the fire, which jumped County Road 26 and County Road 9 and burned into the edge of the Lyons State Forest.
The fire was driven by strong west-northwest winds with gusts up to 35 miles per hour.
Sanow said the fire's path of destruction was long and narrow, about four miles wide and half a mile long.
Most of the land burned was privately owned, and the fire charred property and killed trees owned by the Potlatch company.
In spite of its proximity to the fire, the West Lyons Cemetery was untouched as of Monday morning.
However, Sanow said nothing could be called safe for the next couple of days as high winds and fire conditions continue.
Two National Guard Black Hawk helicopters were expected to join the DNR air fleet Monday. The Black Hawks have buckets that can carry 600 gallons of water. DNR helicopters carry 125-150 gallons. The CL215 aircraft scooped water from both Blueberry and Stocking Lakes near Menahga.
The public information fact sheet said first day firefighting efforts were supported by 13 type 6 wildland engines, nine dozers of various sizes, five all terrain track vehicles, three water bucket equipped helicopters and three CL-215 water scooping aircraft.
The fire did start in proximity with a vehicle but exactly what started it is not yet known according to Sanow.
"The exact cause of what the ignition cause was is under investigation," Sanow said.
The public information fact sheet referred to the incident as "Jeep Wildfire."
Sanow said that the DNR office is asking the public to be mindful of anything they do outside that could create a heat source, and that while recreational fires such as campfires are allowed, people should still abstain or reduce them while the fire danger continues to be high.
Burning restrictions continue to be in effect.
Firemen from Wadena, Verndale, Staples, Sebeka and Menahga joined the DNR in fighting the fire. All five departments had members fighting the fire on Monday.
"We have a plan in place, we have resources in place and if we are able to fully implement the plan we should not have further evacuations," Sanow said.