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Sarah Smith, Forum Communications Co., Published April 13 2012

Park Rapids DNR to keep eye on Nimrod wildfire

PARK RAPIDS, Minn. – Monitoring of a wildfire south of Nimrod has been transferred back to the Park Rapids DNR Forestry department Friday afternoon after containment of the blaze that burned nearly a week.

The DNR and five fire departments were called to the scene of what is being called the Jeep Fire on Easter Sunday afternoon, south of Nimrod in Wadena County.

Over the next few days, gale-force winds drove flames over 1,600 acres, destroying eight structures.

A home and three outbuildings off Wadena County 26 were heavily damaged. A mobile home hunting shack, a postable camper, another outbuilding and an outhouse were also consumed by flames along with the Jeep that’s at the epicenter of the fire.

Aerial firefighters were using hand-held sensors to detect hot spots in the burned landscape.

National Guard Black Hawk helicopters were called in two days. No injuries were reported.

Carsonville firefighters got their first good night’s sleep in a couple weeks Tuesday night. And they weren’t even called to Nimrod.

“For the first nine days of April, we had 13 calls,” said fire chief Roger Wilson.

Grass fires, structure fires and tinder-dry conditions aren’t giving the squad much rest. Gale-force winds aren’t helping.

“We had three structure fires, one medical call and eight grass fires,” Wilson said. “The grass fires are just a normal spring out here. One house fire was from a spark from a wood stove that caught the roof on fire.

“It’s extremely dry,” he added. “We just have to be very careful. I think that Nimrod fire was a perfect example.”

One house fire’s cause is still undetermined and under investigation. The other structure fire began when someone burning in their yard lost control of the burning and a spark caught the mobile home skirting on fire.

“They’re pretty tired,” he admitted of his squad. “We get a lot of our grass fires late at night. The BIA and the DNR take care of a lot of the daytime stuff, and when they all go home, that’s when we get it. So it’s been a long couple weeks, and I don’t think we’re anywhere out of the woods yet.”

Other volunteer fire departments have been similarly taxed this spring.

Sarah Smith writes for the Park Rapids Enterprise.

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