A dozen homes destroyed in Greenwood Fire, feds extend land closures

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

Updated 8:20 p.m.

Superior National Forest officials say 12 homes or cabins have been destroyed in the Greenwood Fire that has burned around 22,000 acres in northeast Minnesota and is not contained. An additional three dwellings were damaged.

A Forest Service spokesperson said 57 outbuildings were also destroyed in the fire. The Lake County Sheriff is notifying residents since the area near Isabella is closed.

The U.S. Forest Service extended the closure of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for another week and announced closures along a long stretch of the upper Gunflint Trail as multiple fires threaten northeastern Minnesota.

In an email to outfitters and other businesses that issue BWCA permits, the Forest Service said it's processing refunds for permits to the BWCA that were scheduled through Sept. 3.

The agency announced the closure on Saturday because of the ongoing drought and extreme wildfire risk. It was initially set to last through Friday.

Permit holders with entry dates of Sept. 4 through Sept. 10 are also being notified that their permits could be canceled as conditions change, although they have not yet been canceled.

Several wildfires are burning in and around the Boundary Waters, including four new fires of an acre or less that have started in the wilderness in the last 24 hours.

Gunflint Trail closures

Federal officials are also closing all federal lands along Cook County Road 12, also known as the Gunflint Trail, starting at Cook County Road 92, west along about 23 miles of wilderness road to the Trail's End Campground.

The Forest Service has canceled reservations and will be refunding campers and paddlers for trips scheduled through Aug. 31. The closure also includes the Iron Lake Campground.

Federal authorities say the closure is necessary because of fires in the area, including the John Ek Fire, and the limited availability of firefighters and equipment.

The road will remain open to vehicles and access is still open to private land and resorts along the Gunflint Trail.

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.