Drought, wildfire conditions lead to more burning restrictions

A look from above the Greenwood Fire, which is burning about 15 miles southwest of Isabella, Minnesota. (USDA Forest Service)

Amid worsening drought conditions and increasing wildfire risk, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is expanding burning restrictions.

The order, which takes effect Tuesday, encompasses over 34 counties. This is impacting some counties for the first time this year, while other counties will see increased restrictions.  For more detailed information, click here.

Just in the last week, the Minnesota Incident Command System reported 65 new wildfires. The Greenwood Fire started burning Sunday about 15 miles southwest of Isabella. It is now estimated to cover about 1,000 acres.

"The fire behavior that we've been experiencing in the last couple of days has been rather extreme." said Nick Petrack with the U.S. Forest Service - Superior National Forest. 

On Monday, the fire forced authorities put evacuations into place for portions of the McDougal Lake area and the Highway 2 corridor. Officials also closed Highway 2 from Forest Highway 11 to Highway 1 and closed Highway 1 from New Tomahawk Road to Lankinen Road. There are reports of ash along Highway 1.

Additional crews are expected to assist with the firefighting efforts on Tuesday. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.