Local emergency personnel battles wildland fire in Eckles Township
A wildland fire broke out between Jackpine Road Northwest and Radar Road Northwest on Tuesday afternoon, with members of the Bemidji and Solway Fire Departments, Beltrami County Sheriff's Office and other local emergency personnel responding to the scene at approximately 3:30 p.m.
ECKLES TOWNSHIP -- A wildland fire broke out between Jackpine Road Northwest and Radar Road Northwest on Tuesday afternoon, with members of the Bemidji and Solway Fire Departments, Beltrami County Sheriff's Office and other local emergency personnel responding to the scene at approximately 3:30 p.m.
According to the Bemidji Fire Department, due to dry and windy conditions, the fire grew rapidly and air support was called to assist in suppression. Many structures were in the line of the fire and Bemidji fire units with the help of Solway fire provided structure protection.
Members of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources were also requested to help contain the fire. A Pioneer reporter arrived on the scene around 4 p.m. and noted several planes and helicopters dropping retardants in the area.
At 4:45 p.m. emergency personnel on the scene could be heard over the scanner stating they were advising people on the north side of Jackpine Road to evacuate but were not officially mandating it.
Members of the Bemidji Police Department were being sent to help with traffic control and possible evacuations, though, from what could be heard over the scanner at about 5 p.m. the firefighters felt confident that the fire would be contained.
Fire fighting planes coming in to fight a fire that seems to be near Jack Pine Road north of Bemidji. A small crowd of onlookers has gathered outside the Eckles Town Hall, as one man watches the action from his roof. pic.twitter.com/xiElRstGDC
Fire fighting planes coming in to fight a fire that seems to be near Jack Pine Road north of Bemidji. A small crowd of onlookers has gathered outside the Eckles Town Hall, as one man watches the action from his roof. pic.twitter.com/xiElRstGDC— Hannah Olson (@hannah_olsonn) July 13, 2021
A small group of onlookers was gathered near the Eckles Community Center who at 4:45 p.m. said they had been there for about an hour.
At 5:20 p.m. fire command confirmed over the scanner that the fire containment was going well, and they were "knocking out hot spots." But no official statements have been released at this time.
At 5:45 p.m. an update was given over the scanner to Beltrami County Emergency Management from the firefighters on scene, stating that four large aircrafts and three helicopters were attacking the fire from the air and things were "in good shape."
The initial cause of the fire is not known at this time.
As of 5:45 p.m., around 75 acres of grass and pine were burning about 1/4 of a mile west of Cardinal Road Northwest and Radar Road Northwest, according to Kristi Coughlon, public information officer with the Bemidji DNR.
She also said 15 engines were on the scene as well multiple air tankers and three helicopters as of 6:15 p.m. Tankers were scooping water out of Lake Bemidji to help combat the fire.
Airplanes will continue to collect water from Lake Bemidji into the evening, according to the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office. They have received reports of numerous boats trying to watch the water collection who are getting in the way, so boaters are asked to avoid the area of the north side of Lake Bemidji while plans make water collections.
By about 8 p.m., after several hours of aerial drops, the fire was contained and the structures were no longer in danger. No structures were lost in the fire, according to the fire department.
The Minnesota State fire marshal’s office along with the Minnesota DNR is investigating the cause of the fire.
This story will be updated.