Menahga area fire consumes nearly 4,000 acres
PARK RAPIDS, Minn. -- Firefighters are working to contain a wildfire that is now between 3,000 and 4,000 acres in north-central Minnesota as of this morning.
Officials are now calling it the Green Valley Fire. It started at about 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon southwest of Park Rapids near Menahga and quickly spread due to high winds.
Jean Goad, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center, said Wednesday that crews are off to a good start toward containing the Green Valley Fire. They've built a bulldozer line around most of the fire perimeter and are attacking hot spots with water-dropping planes and helicopters, and with crews on the ground.
Officials have raised the size estimate to 7,100 acres. But Goad says that's based on better data, not new growth in the fire, which has burned a path about eight miles long and 1.5 miles wide since it started Tuesday.
Highway 71 has been reopened between Menahga and Park Rapids, but officials warn that the smoke is still obscuring visibility.
The weather today is predicted to be in the mid-70s with humidity in the 30s. Winds are supposed to be from the northwest at 10-15 mph.
The governor has ordered in three National Guard helicopters, two Black Hawks with 600 gallon buckets and one aircraft with a 2,000 gallon bucket.
Sebeka School is the center for displaced residents. American Red Cross is set up at Menahga City Hall. Menahga and Sebeka schools are closed today.
A public meeting will be at 8 p.m. tonight at Menahga School.
By Anna Erickson
The Associated Press contributed to this report.