Wildfires in northern Minnesota continue to grow

A person runs behind a fire truck with fire and smoke all around.
In this photo provided by the United States Forest Service, firefighters battle a wildfire, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, near Greenwood Lake in the Superior National Forest of northeastern Minnesota. The fire has burned more than 14 square miles and promoted a new round of evacuations of homes and cabins on Monday.
Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service via AP

More evacuations of homes and cabins are underway in northeastern Minnesota's Lake County as the Greenwood Fire continues to spread. Late Monday, the fire was burning 10,500 acres, after firefighters saw progress Sunday, reducing the burn area to 8,862 acres.

Clark McCreedy with the fire's incident management team said Monday the fire is moving to the east.  That's prompted evacuations in the Kitigan, Grouse and Mitewan Lake areas, east of State Highway 1.

According to a Facebook post by U.S. Forest Service the fire is expected to cross Highway 1 near the intersection of Lake County Highway 2.

Smoke is seen coming out of a dense forest.
Smoke from the Greenwood Fire spreads across the side near the township of Murphy City in northeast Minnesota on Aug. 23, 2021.
Courtesy of the USDA Forest Service

But forecasters expect conditions to improve.

"Later in the week, temperatures are going to moderate, so we'll actually have some days in the 60s with chances of precipitation so much better weather that is conducive to gaining on a fire,” McCreedy said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Forest Service says the John Ek fire on the western edge of Cook County has grown to about 2,000 acres — over double the 800 acres reported early Monday.

The Whelp Fire nearby remained at about 50 acres Monday evening.

The fires prompted officials to close the entire million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area over the weekend so crews aren't diverted to any search and rescue missions.

Dave Seaton owns Hungry Jack Outfitters on the Gunflint Trail, and said he's been contacting customers and refunding their deposits.

"I think in the short term, this is a good idea,” Seaton said. “And as time goes on and we get more rain, it'll be interesting to see if they open things up in certain places."

The Forest Service has cancelled all BWCA entry permits through this Friday, and rangers are paddling to campsites to tell visitors that they have to leave.

Forest officials delivered an update on the fires Monday evening.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.