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Weekend rain helps contain northeast Minnesota wildfires



FILE - This image provided by the USDA Forest Service, shows a smoky, foggy sunrise along the Gunflint Trail on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Superior National Forest in northern Minnesota. (Sarah Shapiro/USDA Forest Service via AP)

ISABELLA, Minn. (AP) — Cooler temperatures and weekend rain showers helped fire crews who are working to contain wildfires in northeast Minnesota.

As of Sunday the Greenwood Fire burning west of Isabella remained at just over 26,000 acres (40.63 square miles) and was 37% contained, Minnesota Public Radio News reported. Officials managing the fire say the threat to cabins, homes and recreational sites in the area is diminished, thanks to favorable weather and firefighting efforts.

More than 400 firefighters are working on the fire.

The Greenwood Fire was caused by lightening and has burned 14 homes and cabins and several dozen other structures since it was first spotted Aug. 15. About 200 homes and cabins remain evacuated.

Meanwhile the two largest fires burning within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness also remained quiet over the weekend.

The John Ek Fire is about 1,350 acres (2.11 square miles), and the nearby Whelp Fire is about 50 acres. Both fires are considered to be completely uncontained. Crews have been working to set up contingency lines and sprinkler systems to create defensible lines in case the fires spread.

“With stronger, gusty winds, some creeping and surface spread in exposed dry marsh grasses is possible, but no significant fire movement is anticipated,” fire officials reported Sunday.

Parts of the BWCA and the Superior National Forest closest to the fires, including along the upper Gunflint Trail, remain closed, but most of the wilderness reopened to visitors this weekend after a two-week closure.

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