MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This past weekend brought some much-needed relief in the fight against the Greenwood Fire in northern Minnesota.
The fire is now 14% contained after charring about 26,000 acres. It’s been burning for more than two weeks near Isabella.
The evacuation has affected about 300 people. Officials say Monday was a good one, with no smoke in the air. Still, there are questions and caution about just when residents will be allowed back in.
Stephanie Aho’s parents, Steve and Marilyn Peterson, had just officially made their cabin their home on Sand Lake last month.
“They were just excited to enjoy a retirement and live at the lake,” Aho said.
But on Aug. 16, her parents were given a 30-minute lead to leave. They filmed the moment a firefighting plane flew past their front window.
“It’s kind of one of those things that maybe you just don’t think is gonna really happen, but things changed in a hurry,” Aho said.
She wanted to do what she could to help the hundreds forced from their homes like her parents, and the 14 volunteer departments helping fight the Greenwood Fire.
Park State Bank is sponsoring a supply drive, where pallets of water and snacks are piling up in Two Harbors, along with thank you cards from local kids. Kiera Wilson is the bank’s vice president of business banking.
“We’re seeing what an impact this has made in our community, but it’s even greater and beyond,” Wilson said. “For us, it’s ‘What can we do to give back? What can we do to help?’”
Too much help attracted bears to an area around the fire. Hannah Bergemann with the United States Forest Service says her agency is asking people to direct donations in a different way.
“While we really appreciate just the outpouring of kindness that we’re experiencing from the local community, we cannot accept donations here at the incident,” Bergemann said.
The incident command center is now set up in Finland, where teams monitor Monday’s 470-person crew, changing weather conditions, and the possibility of more fire activity this week.
“We’re not completely out of the woods here,” Bergemann said.
Fourteen homes and cabins on McDougal Lake have been destroyed by fire, which is about 20 minutes from Isabella. The Petersons on Sand Lake tell WCCO they have not sustained any damage. The fire has been kept about three miles from them.