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Large wildfire ignites Lyons State Forest

Conservation Corps firefighters inspected the scene of a fire Wednesday, May 4 at the Lyons State Forest in Wadena County.1 / 5
Fire burns in a logged pine forest near Oylen Wednesday afternoon. Dry windy conditions have made the fire danger high in central Minnesota. (Brainerd Dispatch/ Steve Kohls) Gallery and Video2 / 5
A T41 jet air tanker drops fire retardant on a blaze north of Staples Wednesday afternoon. Fire fighters from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Staples and Verndale battled the 100 acre fire which burned quickly in a pine plantation near Oylen. (Brainerd Dispatch/ Steve Kohls) Video and gallery3 / 5
Two of the Verndale firefighters involved in dealing with the Lyons State Forest blaze last Wednesday were assistant chief Louis Wegscheid, left, and chief Mike Madsen. 4 / 5
A large cloud of smoke rises above the pines near the Lyons State Forest Wednesday afternoon.5 / 5

A wildfire ignited in Lyons State Forest in Wadena County May 4, with firefighters responding by ground and air to tame the fire.

Forestry crews with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and area firefighters responded to the wildfire reported at 3:30 p.m. near Oylen, along with a large tanker that holds 3,000 gallons from Bemidji, two track vehicles, three bulldozers and six aircraft.

The fire torched pine trees, burning about 100 acres of previously logged pines heading into mature pines, the DNR reported.

Christi Powers, public information officer with the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center (MIFC), said temperatures and wind gusts made the fire danger high through the week.

Much of northern Minnesota was in a "red flag warning" last week, a condition issued by the National Weather Service when critical fire weather conditions are occurring. A combination of strong winds and low relative humidity can contribute to extreme fire behavior.

The wildfire was titled as "The Lyons fire" and was believed to have been caused by people, the MIFC stated in a news release and it continues to be investigated.

The wildfire was a wind-driven, fast-moving fire that burned in upland jack pine, which was a combination of 50-year-old standing trees, blowdown salvage slash and three-year-old blow down trees.

No residences or structures were threatened as of late last week. Firefighters spent time Thursday extinguishing all smoldering fuels with fire breaks.

The Lyons State Forest is considered a "High Conservation Value Forest." Wildland firefighters from statewide locations worked on the fire, including the DNR, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Conservation Corps of Minnesota.

Fire departments assisting in the wildfire included Sebeka, Menahga, Verndale, Wadena, Staples and the Wadena County Sheriff and Staples Ambulance Service.

Though rainfall came early this week, much of the state continued to be at risk for possible wildfires and spring burning restrictions were still in effect.

Restrictions typically remain in place until summer green-up occurs. This usually lasts four to six weeks. The DNR also has no burning permits or campfires allowed in a good portion of northern part of the state.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561
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