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Containment of NE Minnesota wildfire grows; rain is forecast

August 31, 2021 GMT
As the Greenwood Fire continues to burn, smoke from the blaze fills the air near Slater Lake as fire crews set back fires to better control the perimeter, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, in Isabella, Minn. (Brian Peterson/Star Tribune via AP)
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As the Greenwood Fire continues to burn, smoke from the blaze fills the air near Slater Lake as fire crews set back fires to better control the perimeter, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, in Isabella, Minn. (Brian Peterson/Star Tribune via AP)
1 of 6
As the Greenwood Fire continues to burn, smoke from the blaze fills the air near Slater Lake as fire crews set back fires to better control the perimeter, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, in Isabella, Minn. (Brian Peterson/Star Tribune via AP)

FINLAND, Minn. (AP) — Containment of a wildfire in northeastern Minnesota has risen to 37% as hundreds of firefighters expand their defensive lines.

The Greenwood Lake fire has burned nearly 41 square miles (105 square kilometers) in the Superior National Forest since it was spotted Aug. 15, but it hasn’t grown much in the past week. As many as 2 inches (5 centimeters) of rain fell over the weekend.

Forest officials said in an update Tuesday that Monday’s moderate weather helped crews extend their containment lines on the west and north sides. Construction has been advancing at a rate of nearly 1 1/2 miles (2.4 kilometers) a day.

Officials also said 505 people are now assigned to the fire, up from 468 earlier. The fire was caused by lighting. It destroyed 14 homes and cabins plus 57 outbuildings early last week, but no injuries have been reported. It’s separate from two fires within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area that led the Forest Service to close the wilderness and public lands along the upper Gunflint Trail.

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Forest Service officials said at a public meeting Monday night they’ll begin reopening in phases if rain forecast for Thursday and Friday materializes. District Ranger Ellen Bogardus-Szymaniak acknowledged the frustrations of outfitters who’ve lost business and of resort owners who’ve seen reservations canceled because guests are fearful of visiting.