Welcome rain arrives as crews report some containment of Greenwood Fire

Trees charred by a wildfire
An area burned by the Greenwood Fire in northeast Minnesota is seen Saturday along Lake County Highway 2.
Superior National Forest

Updated: Aug. 29, 10:15 a.m.

Steady rain fell across much of northeast Minnesota from Saturday into Sunday — with some reports of more than an inch of rain in the area where fire crews are battling the Greenwood Fire.

That was more welcome news, after officials on Saturday reported some containment of the Greenwood Fire for the first time since it started nearly two weeks ago.

The fire burning west of Isabella, Minn., is now 14 percent contained — that figure remained unchanged as of an update Sunday morning. The size of the fire remained just below 26,000 acres — unchanged from the previous day as more than 470 firefighters are working on the fire.

"Hand crews and heavy equipment operators took advantage of cool temperatures, high humidity and light rain to improve fire lines on the west and north perimeters of the Greenwood Fire," officials said in an update Sunday morning.

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A return to dry conditions and possibly gusty winds are in the forecast from later Sunday into Monday.

Some evacuations related to the Greenwood Fire were lifted Saturday — the Lake County Sheriff's Office said residents in the Slate Lake area, northwest of the fire, were being allowed to return to their properties.

But other evacuation orders remain in effect for the fire that has burned more than a dozen homes or cabins, and several dozen other structures.

BWCA fires

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness remains closed to visitors through at least Friday, Sept. 3, because of the extreme fire danger, and limited resources to respond to any emergencies in the BWCA.

The largest fire burning in the wilderness is the John Ek Fire, south of Little Saganaga Lake. It was estimated at about 1,563 acres as of Sunday, with little growth in recent days with the cooler, more humid weather.

The fire has been burning in a remote, hard-to-access area of the BWCA. A four-person reconnaissance crew was set to be flown out Sunday, after planning on-the-ground for potential helicopter access, camps and equipment drop points for firefighters.

The nearby Whelp Fire remains about 50 acres in size, with 13 firefighters working to construct fire lines and install hose lines.

Officials also continue to monitor several other fires in the BWCA as well as large fires burning to the north in Ontario's Quetico Provincial Park that have the potential to spread south across the border.