WCSO: 5 houses, 25 outbuildings lost in county from Green Valley Fire
Five houses and 25 outbuildings were destroyed by a wildfire known by officials as the “Green Valley Fire” in Wadena County alone, Sheriff Mike Carr said Wednesday afternoon.
Three houses and five outbuildings were damaged, and there were 65 people displaced in Wadena County. No injuries were reported, Carr said. The majority of the fire burned in Wadena County, he said. The Minnesota Incident Command System website reported that the fire was 25 percent contained as of 8 a.m. Thursday. In total, twelve residences, two commercial properties and 41 outbuildings were lost and an estimated 7100 acres were affected by the fire, MNICS said. Fire behavior was expected to be minimal Thursday.
Carr said the Menahga Fire Department was called out for mutual aid with Wolf Lake Fire Department at about 4:00 p.m. Tuesday. The fire was originally located in Becker County about one mile west of the county line with Wadena. Between all three counties affected by the fire --Wadena, Becker and Hubbard-- over 1700 people were notified to evacuate the area, Carr said. 97 residents of a nursing home in Menahga were evacuated to stay with family members near Wadena and other locations, Carr said.
On Tuesday night, roadblocks were deployed to shut down U.S. Highway 71 from the city of Menahga to Minnesota Highway 87 in Hubbard County, and Wadena County Road 23/Hubbard Road from Stocking Lake Road to Twin Lakes Road. Carr said the only road that remained closed on Wednesday afternoon was Twin Lakes Road, which he expected to be open by 8 p.m. that night.
Carr said 35 law enforcement organizations assisted the Wadena County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday and Wednesday with traffic control and evacuating citizens. Forty-two fire departments using over 100 trucks assisted with fighting the fire, he said. Carr said aircraft were also used to fight the fire, including planes from the DNR and a Black Hawk helicopter from the Minnesota National Guard.
Carr spoke from 14 years of experience as a firefighter when he said air units were instrumental in fighting the Green Valley Fire.
“A fire like this, the only way you can beat that is through...air attack,” he said. “The air attack did a great job today.”
Members of the Wadena Fire Department were also on hand to fight the fire along with many other departments. About half the Wadena department assisted at any one time, the balance remained in Wadena to be able to handle any emergencies here.
A Red Cross disaster relief shelter was operating out of Laestadian Lutheran Church of Menahga Wednesday evening. Shelter Supervisor Rick Campion said the shelter had a capacity of about forty people, but he was unsure of how many clients he could expect to arrive.
For more information on the fire, visit the MNICS website at mnics.org.