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Published November 03, 2011, 06:26 PM

Crews Still Battling Wildfire Near Thief River Falls, MN

NEAR THIEF RIVER FALLS, MN (WDAZ-TV) - A wildfire continues to char over 200 acres of land in the Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge north of Thief River Falls.

NEAR THIEF RIVER FALLS, MN (WDAZ-TV) - A wildfire continues to char over 200 acres of land in the Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge north of Thief River Falls.

What was once a controlled burn has now been producing too much smoke for 10 days.

Fire information officer Dick Birger makes his way through charred trees and branches as the fire smolders.

"One of the reasons we do prescribed fire on national wildlife refuge is to mimic the role of fire in the natural environment," Birger said.

The fire was started at the refuge nearly one month ago. They are usually started to rejuvenate the area, or reduce brush for waterfowl. Birger didn't know the fire would go underground.

"The fire was always within the confines of the burn unit, always within the refuge where it was supposed to be, but the amount of smoke being released exceeded what was called for in the prescription, so we then made the decision to come in and extinguish the fire," Birger said.

The fire continues to put up smoke, which is the reason firefighters are still out here.

"We're putting on an average of 20-25 thousand gallons a day but it's not just on the surface, we're putting it right where the smoke and heat is," incident commander Lee Nelson.

With a dry fall, the peat is burning underground, which makes it harder to extinguish but firefighters are making progress.

"The last 10 days we've accomplished about 30-percent of what was smoking," Nelson said.

The southwest area is closed to hunters for the season due to the fire, and the danger of falling trees.

For more information on the fire you can log onto inciweb.org

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