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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

USFS air base at Ely gears up to battle Greenwood Lake Fire

Highway 1 closed as fire grows to more than 1,500 acres

Keith Vandervort
Posted 8/16/21

ELY - The U.S. Forest Service called in the big guns Monday afternoon to battle the

Greenwood Lake Fire that was exploding in size and intensity. A Boeing 737 fire plane from

the Northwest …

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USFS air base at Ely gears up to battle Greenwood Lake Fire

Highway 1 closed as fire grows to more than 1,500 acres

Posted

ELY - The U.S. Forest Service called in the big guns Monday afternoon to battle the Greenwood Lake Fire that was exploding in size and intensity.

A Boeing 737 fire plane from the Northwest South Wales Rural Fire Service in Australia was deployed on Monday to the USFS Air Attack Base at the Ely Airport.

Ground crews pumped 3,700 gallons of liquid fire retardant mixture into the plane in just a few minutes for its first run. At 1 p.m. on Monday, the plane was preparing for its second fire drop of the day.

“The plane was in Boise, Idaho, for the last couple of weeks,” said USFS Acting Forest Aviation Officer Kevin Merrill. “She flew in this morning because of the danger posed by the Greenwood Lake Fire (located 19 miles southeast of Ely). We’ll have this plane as long as is needed.”

Merrill said the plane would take four or five more loads to the fire that day.

This newest forest fire was reported mid-afternoon on Sunday and grew to at least 1,500 acres overnight.

Four aerial tankers were quickly deployed to the Ely base early this week, including two Fire Boss float planes, and an S-61 helicopter. A BAE-146 tanker was enroute late Monday.

“We also have two water bombers from Ontario making flights here,” Merrill said. “The Forest Service is throwing everything we can at this fire. This is a big one and it will likely get bigger.”

Highway closed

MnDOT and the State Patrol, in coordination with the USFS, closed Highway 1 near Isabella on Monday afternoon due to the Greenwood Fire.  The road is closed on eastbound Highway 1 at New Tomahawk Road to allow traffic to go back to Babbitt or turn around. Westbound Highway 1 is closed at Wanless Road in Isabella to allow traffic to use forest highway roads or turn around.

For information about the Greenwood Fire, please visit Inciweb.nwcg.gov or call 218-499-9441.

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