UPDATE: Firefighters Investigating Cause, Watching for Hotspots on Highway 61 After Multiple Fires Saturday

The multiple fires have burned an estimated 45 acres, according to the the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center. 


GRAND RAPIDS, Minn.- Hotspots along Highway 61 North of Silver Bay are still being monitored Sunday by fire crews from six different area fire departments, Minnesota DNR Fire and Air assets, and Lake County Rescue squad, among other responders. The cause remains under investigation.

The multiple fires have burned an estimated 45 acres, according to the the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center.

Highway 61 was closed in both directions from Silver Bay, Minn., to Illgen City, Minn. The highway was closed due to smoky conditions and aircraft activity supporting the fire, including dipping for water out of Lake Superior.

According to the Interagency Fire Center, residents in the area and motorists traveling along Highway 61 Sunday can expect to see wildland firefighting crews in the area mopping up lingering fire hotspots.

The public is reminded to slow down and follow all state and local laws that protect emergency responders working along roadways to ensure the safety of the firefighters working in the area.

Hwy 61 Fire Air

Photo: Lake County Sheriffs Office

Officials said several aircraft, including air tankers and helicopters, provided water and fire retardant drops to help cool and slow down the wildfires. Aircraft helps support the firefighting crews working hard on the ground to suppress the wildfires.

“Every spring, we see a rise in wildfire activity as the snowpack melts and leaves behind dry vegetation like grasses, leaves, and needles,” said Leanne Langeberg, Public Information Officer with the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center. “We left last fall in abnormally dry conditions in Northeast Minnesota. Snow totals were less than normal, and lack of measurable precipitation has left us in a persistent dry pattern.”

Officials remind the public that it only takes one spark for a wildfire to start and spread.

These conditions will remain with us until we receive measurable precipitation and vegetation reaches full green-up. Residents and visitors in northeast Minnesota are reminded to use caution this spring wildfire season.

Dragging chains from vehicles, tossing cigarette butts out of vehicle windows, even simply parking along roadsides on dry vegetation can all create a spark that can quickly become a wildfire, the Interagency Fire Center said.

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