Greenwood Fire Won’t Be ‘Extinguished’ Until Snow Falls
The fire was estimated at 25,991 acres Thursday.
NEAR ISABELLA, Minn.,- For those who thought the incoming rain would help fight the Greenwood wildfire, officials Thursday said it’ll be snow that likely provides the moisture needed to bring the almost 26,000-acre fire down.
“And this’ll be a long-term incident, of course,” Incident Commander Brian Pisarek said. “Put this out as probably snowfall as what’s gonna extinguish it, in the end.”
In a press briefing Thursday, Governor Tim Walz and Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith heard firsthand from fire crews the reality of a long haul with the fire setting in, as they offered federal resources.
“Saving lives, protecting our firefighters, their lives and health, that’s been a real success,” Gov. Walz said. “We hate to see loss of property, but we can rebuild.”
According to Pisarek, any rain that may fall now may be at the wrong time and place to be of any help.
“One of our tactics is to remove the fuel, from part of the fire on the east side, and this rain of course inhibits us from doing that,” said the Incident Commander. “So we’re kind of in our actions, you think rain would be the best thing we could get but the timing of the rain is also critical to our operation.”
Crews took advantage of northwest winds Wednesday. “Ground troops are able to secure the northeast area of the fire from moving towards any structures, that was a big success for us,” Pisarek said. “Our next priority is the town of Isabella.”
They explained to state officials how the 476 men and women with boots on the ground are dealing with the fatigue of fighting flames — that may not be fully contained for at least a month until snowfall.
“With firefighters and public safety at the forefront we do the best we can to make sure that we have adequate rest,” said Nick Petrack, West Zone Fire Management Officer.
“We’ve said it since March based on working with professionals and looking at the outlooks as a marathon, so we know that going in. So we try to set up resources where we’re still trying to get people the adequate time off to get through it,” he said.
12 primary structures including cabins, homes, and recreational sites along with 57 outbuildings, have been destroyed so far.
“Pretty tragic and these are probably, I’m assuming cabins that have maybe been in families generations and with that gone that causes a lot of grief especially in smaller communities,” said the Governor.
Officials say crews have come from Florida and Colorado, and more could be on the way from Illinois.
Gov. Walz said as the months burn on, there are others close by willing to provide assistance. “And I’ll have to tell you, there’s folks that wanna help,” he said.
“I don’t step out of my lane on this cause you have procedures for doing this, but Governor Evers called yesterday and said ‘is there anything I can do?'” said Walz.
And for crews fighting the flames, all they can do is buckle down and keep fighting.
“We’re expecting this to go until snowfall, so we’re trying to just pace ourselves in order to, let’s just call it, finish this marathon,” Petrack said.