Governor Mark Dayton called up the Minnesota National Guard yesterday to provide air support to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to fight a five hundred acre wildfire in the Red Lake National Wildlife Refuge, four miles north of Four Town in Beltrami County.
We spoke with Wildfire Section Manager Paul Lundgren, who says the fire began Wednesday as a DNR Prescribed Burn on 1,200 to 1,400 acres in the Moose River Wildlife Management Area.
By 8pm Thursday night, air support had been released as the ground fight continued with no injuries and no property damage reported. Lundgren said containment efforts would continue this morning, with monitoring and patrolling through-out the day.
At the height of the fire the National Guard provided a UH60/Blackhawk helicopter capable of dumping 660 gallons of water and a CH47/Chinook helicopter with water capacity of 2 thousand gallons, along with one fixed wing aircraft and tanker support out of Ontario, Canada.
The Minnesota State Patrol has provided air reconnaissance throughout.
The DNR rated Fire Danger as “Extreme” yesterday in Northwest Minnesota, the highest alert level possible, short of a Red Flag Warning; with no burning permits issued and only recreational campfires (within a three foot ring) allowed.