Greenwood Fire Now 37% Contained as Incident Command Post Works from Finland

The boots-on-the-ground operations crew remains in Isabella, burning tactical fires to eliminate potential fuel to keep the main fire boxed in.

FINLAND, Minn.- Fire crews hope to continue the momentum against the 26,000 acre Greenwood fire, now 37% contained as of Monday evening thanks to recent rainy weather, and now moving their Incident Command Post to Finland while operations remain in Isabella right near the blaze.

“In terms of wildland fire, the goal is to be mobile, adaptable, resilient,” said Clark McCreedy, PIO for the Eastern Area Type 2 Incident Management Team.

At the Incident Command Post’s new home at the Finland Community Center, the team works on financing, planning, and logistics for the roughly $8 million firefight.

While over in Isabella, the boots on the ground continue their work on the front lines.

“By having that base at Isabella, they’re a little bit closer to where they’re going to work. By having the Incident Management Team here we have this wonderful facility but it’s close to our lodging as well. So we minimize the travel times in both cases.”

Bringing the roughly 60 person team to the community center meant the businesses of Finland, like the Wildhurst Lodge further up Highway 1, were there to help out with some daily essentials and services.

“Actually I’ve been giving free showers to, free showers to anybody who wants a shower,” Lodge Owner Jason Axelson. “And one of the distributors has been giving free beer to, one free beer to each fireman. That’s been helping out.”

“Both Isabella, Finland, these communities have really been exceptional,” said McCreedy.

With the recent rain and cooler temps, crews have been able to improve containment lines and remove hazardous and fallen trees along roads. “This moderate weather has allowed us to put a lot of folks very close to the perimeter,” he said.

Local loggers are also pitching in, creating fuel breaks to improve containment lines along Highway 1 and the stony river grade road.

But in order to keep the fire boxed into its perimeter, crews have done what some may find odd — using fire, to fight the fire.

“We actually lit a tactical fire along this flank and along the northern flank and that wind seemed to push our fire back into the existing footprint of the fire,” said McCreedy.

“So that way, we sort of have the tactical advantage. We can remove fuels but we can do it safely and effectively,” he said.

But while the wet conditions have helped so far, McCreedy said burning the fuel for the tactical fires to come will actually require the opposite.

“Actually what we need now is just a little bit of dry weather. So we can actually light along the Stony River Grade,” he said.

According to officials, the cooperation of the weather — and the surrounding communities — have been key in getting the fire 37% contained so far.

“This is going to make folks think, become a lot more confident once we start to establish good containment lines along this side,” said McCreedy.

The Red Cross announced Monday that they are closing the overnight shelter at the Babbitt Municipal Center due to the changing needs of those affected.

Another public meeting on the fire will be at the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center Tuesday evening at 6 p.m.

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