Greenwood wildfire burning in northern Minnesota expands to more than 9,000 acres

The Greenwood Fire jumped over to the west side of Highway 2 Friday afternoon.  (U.S. Forest Service - Superior National Forest)

The Greenwood Fire burning in the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota nearly doubled in size on Friday as the fire reportedly crossed into new territories.

The fire, which has been burning for five days now, increased on Friday from an estimated 4,734 acres to now more than 9,000 acres with no containment, according to data from the federal government's incident website.

The fire started southwest of Isabella, Minnesota but Friday jumped the Highway 2 corridor, triggering evacuations for those in the area. An area quality alert has also been issued for nearby areas due to smoke.

The U.S. Forest Service says crews worked on Friday with hand crews, engines, and aircraft to fight the flames and contain the quickly moving fire. On Thursday, a hotspot team from South Dakota joined the fight to contain the flames.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is evacuating residents in the Sand Lake and Stony Lake areas, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The fire was first detected on Sunday around 3 p.m. near Greenwood Lake, about 15 miles southwest of Isabella. The Forest Service confirmed the fire was started by a lightning strike.

Evacuations ordered

Evacuation orders were issued earlier this week for McDougal Lake, Sand Lake, the Highway 2 corridor and just north of Highway 1. A Red Cross shelter has been set up at the Finland Community Center for those who have been evacuated.

Road, forest closures 

Highway 2 is closed from Forest Highway 11 to Highway 1. Highway 1 is closed from New Tomahawk Road to Lankinen Road. The Forest Service has also closed a portion of the Superior National Forest that extends across areas within the Kawishiwi, Laurentian and Tofte Ranger Districts and a small portion of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Air quality alert in effect until Monday

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air quality alert effective until 3 p.m. until Monday for Lake and Cook counties due to smoke from the Greenwood Fire as well as the wildfires over the border in Canada. The affected area includes Isabella, Silver Bay, Grand Marais, and the tribal nation of Grand Portage.

Fine particle levels are expected to reach the Orange AQI category, a level that is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, for the affected area.