Dozens of homes, outbuildings burned in Minnesota wildfire

Published 9:00 am Thursday, August 26, 2021

ISABELLA — Dozens of homes, cabins and outbuildings have been destroyed or damaged in northeastern Minnesota as the state’s largest wildfire continues burning uncontained, according to Superior National Forest officials.

Authorities say 12 homes or cabins and 57 outbuildings have been lost in the Greenwood Lake fire that has consumed 34 square miles of forest land. An additional three homes or cabins were damaged in the fire, Minnesota Public Radio News reported Wednesday.

Forest officials decided to keep the popular Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness closed another week, until Sept. 3, dealing a blow to tourists who spent months planning their trips there and to the outfitters and other businesses serving the 1 million-acre wilderness.

Several fires caused by lightning have burned in the wilderness during this summer’s drought conditions, while the much bigger Greenwood Lake fire just to the south has forced the evacuation of about 280 homes and cabins since it was spotted Aug. 15 about 15 miles (24 kilometers) southwest of the town of Isabella.

Forest officials were also watching fires burning just across the Canadian border, in Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park, which led them to close some parts of the Boundary Waters north of Ely earlier this summer.

But when the John Ek fire took off late last week, forest officials decided to close the entire wilderness area as a precaution. They said that fire and the Greenwood Lake fire had stretched their resources too thin to ensure the safety of paddlers and campers.

More than 400 crew members are fighting the forest fires.