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DNR battles blaze east of Pinewood

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Rising temperatures and wind gusts continue to fan conditions for wildfires in the Bemidji area.

The state Department of Natural Resources Wildfire Information Center reported 15 active wildfires in its Bemidji Area on Saturday, including one which developed along the pipeline east of Pinewood.

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"The DNR had been fighting another fire and driving back, looked down the open pipeline area and saw smoke," said David Hurlbert, who lives in that area.

"They got right on it and got it shut down before it could grow," said Hurlbert, who took pictures of the operation and said he emptied his refrigerator bringing drinks to the dozen or so DNR firefighters.

Both fires the DNR tended to Saturday afternoon utilized air resources, large dozers and several local units, with heavy fuels being consumed, the DNR Wildfire Information Center said.

The holdover firefighters from the first fire spotted a small crowning of 50 to 75 yards in dense doghair jackpine about 3:30 p.m., it said.

Hurlbert said the wildfire was about 1.6 miles east of Pinewood along the abandoned railroad tracks, with the fire covering about seven to 10 acres.

He thought about five planeloads of water were dropped on the fire from a water scooper, aa Canadair CL-215 stationed at Bemidji, which can carry 1,300 gallons of fire retardant or water.

"The jackpine underbrush is just like tinder," Hurlbert said.

Numerous wildfires were reported Friday and Saturday in northern Minnesota, the DNR said, with the CL-215 and both helicopters stationed at Bemidji used on fires Friday as well.

Beltrami County remains under burning restrictions, the DNR said, and because of the fire danger conditions, Crow Wing and south Cass counties did not issue burning permits as of Saturday morning.

Most of northern Minnesota continues to be under burning restrictions, including north Cass, Clearwater, Hubbard and Itasca counties.

"DNR areas are staffing with a regular to full complement of personnel and equipment prepared for increased fire activity," the DNR said. It added that for the year to date, 10,437 acres in its Northwest Region have fallen to wildfire.

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