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Published October 02, 2012, 02:39 PM

National Guard Joins NW Minnesota Fire Battle

The Minnesota National Guard has been called to help fight wildfires today in northwest Minnesota.

By: Kevin Bonham, Grand Forks Herald

The Minnesota National Guard has been called to help fight wildfires today in northwest Minnesota.

Gov. Mark Dayton directed two Blackhawk helicopters and a team of 13 Guard members to arrive today at Thief River Falls to help suppress a fire near Fourtown, Minn., that has grown to about 700 acres.

The fire was about two miles long and about one-half-mile wide Tuesday morning and access had been difficult, according to the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center.

The fire was about two miles long and about one-half-mile wide this morning and access has been difficult, according to the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center.

It’s one of several weekend fires that still were burning today in what is considered part of the Wannaska Complex of northwest Minnesota.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service extended its red flag fire warning to cover both western Minnesota and eastern North Dakota, until 7 p.m. today.

Extremely dry fuel conditions along with winds that have been measured at more than 40 mph today and low minimum relative humidity and brisk winds are resulting in extreme fire danger conditions, the weather service said.

In addition, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources continues mop-up operations on two of four fires that were still burning this morning west of Middle River, Minn.

• East Park, a 150-acre fire in which firefighting efforts have been hampered by burning peat pockets, according to Jean Bergerson, a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources public information officer who is part of the incident command system. Firefighters are able to extinguish only about five acres per day, using heavy equipment to dig out and turn the peat.

• West Lincoln, a 15-acre fire where mop-up work was underway today in a hardwood forest area.

• County Road 27, a 500-acre fire near Karlstad, Minn., where nearly 100 volunteer firefighters from nearby communities worked Sunday and Monday to keep the blaze from buildings. One shed was reported to be destroyed.

• Richardville, a 980-acre fire north of Lancaster, Minn. While most of the fire is in Manitoba, one residence and four outbuildings were destroyed Monday.

• Juneberry, a small area of peat, the site of a fire that initially was reported in August.

Besides the National Guard, the state has been aided by the use of aerial water scoopers to drop water and other fire suppressants from the air from Manitoba and Ontario, according to a report today.

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