Greenwood Fire 49% Contained as Gov. Walz, Senators Get Up-Close Look at Damage

The state officials said Monday, it was eye-opening to see the extent of the damage, and the work the firefighters have achieved thus far.

DULUTH, Minn. – Fire crews report the Greenwood fire is almost half contained. The more than 26,000-acre blaze drew the attention of Governor Tim Walz and Senators Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar Monday.

“I think being on the ground it’s always helpful for me to see it. And just to see what these folks have been going through like you said for a month,” Gov. Tim Walz (DFL) said.

The blaze near Isabella is one of the largest the state has suffered in recent years.

“This is an unusual year, and it’s not done,” said Walz.

The state officials said Monday, it was eye-opening to see the extent of the damage, and the work the firefighters have achieved thus far.

“I asked ‘well was this smoldering embers out here?’ They go no, this was full out firewall,” said U.S. Senator Klobuchar (D). “So you can imagine you couldn’t be standing here at all.”

“And yet today you just see the charred remains,” she said.

On Monday firefighters took to water using boats to work on fire lines east and west of Greenwood Lake. They also used land equipment on McGregor Lake Road to get to some of the fire pockets on the northeast side. The Lake County Sheriff opened Highway 1 from Lankinen road to the junction with Highway 2 for full-time residents only.

Governor Walz says the risk of fires in the state remains high, and that it’s time to start looking into more proactive measures.

“I remind Minnesotans, it’s usually September when our fire season starts, we’ve already had close to 1,900 fires that have burned 3 times more acres than we’ve seen on average,” said Walz. “We really fight these things until the snow comes, so it’s a ways to go.”

“The real goal here is: what can we do in the front end so that we can prevent some of these fires?” he said. “Or, so that we can know that fires are part of a healthy forest, how they can be done in a controlled manner? So just really grateful, really impressed by what’s been done.”

Senator Klobuchar said these northern forest fires are evidence Washington needs to give more federal funding to fight wildfires around the country and here at home, which she’s advocating for in congress with Senator Smith.

“This is going to mean throwing out some of the old growth here and that takes resources and we are literally going back to Washington next week to start working on that,” said Sen. Klobuchar.

“We’ve got to also be serious about how we’re making sure we pay our firefighters and that we’ve got enough people to do firefighting,” she said.

Meanwhile, Governor Walz highlighted the economic blow to surrounding communities impacted. “These types of fires bust budgets in smaller counties.”

His message to those Northern Minnesotans — hang in there, as he hopes to discuss more assistance with the state legislature.

“These business owners in a year that has been incredibly difficult with all things from COVID on,” Gov. Walz said,” “and now to be not having business because roads are closed down, and resorts are closed down and the boundary waters are closed down, that’s a tough one.”

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