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Forum News Service, Published May 21 2013

Rain helps contain 7,100-acre grass fire in Park Rapids area

PARK RAPIDS, Minn. – A 7,100-acre grass fire that consumed 64 buildings last week is contained. Weekend rains helped departments get the fire under control.

“We got rain, and that’s excellent,” Jeff Edmonds, spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources, said over the weekend. “It’s quieted things down. We have crews out there. We’re going to be winding it down and handing it back to the local Park Rapids area office in the next few days.”

All evacuations and road closures in the Green Valley fire area have been lifted. No spread is expected.

The fire’s footprint was established by May 14, spreading nearly nine miles long by one to two miles wide through Becker, Hubbard and Wadena counties, Edmonds said.

“Nothing has really grown since that,” he added. “No other structures have been lost; no significant fire runs since then. It’s been an occasional tree, an occasional clump of unburned fuel or something.”

Peat throughout the burn area continued to smolder deep beneath the surface, “but nothing to expand the perimeter or damage more structures from that first day,” Edmonds said.

All out-of-area resources have been demobilized. Staffing of the fire was returned to the DNR Park Rapids Forestry Area.

The DNR will facilitate a session with loggers and landowners whose trees sustained damage in last week’s fire.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Menahga School library.

The session is an opportunity for landowners whose trees were affected by the fire to meet loggers, area Forestry supervisor Mark Carlstrom explained of timber sales and other relevant issues.

Red pine stressed by fire is susceptible to pine bark beetle infestation, he said, which can eventually move to healthy trees.

For more information, call the forestry office at 732-3309.