Few hot spots remain in the wildfire near Nimrod, according to a flight by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) over the area with a with a hand-held heat sensing device.
Weather predictions for warming temperatures and light wind gusts on Thursday afternoon may increase the chance of spotting for new starts, the DNR said.
“The probability of ignition, especially in grasses, remains high,” the DNR reported. “While all resources will remain committed to the fire, one tactical group including an engine, hand crew, dozer, and track vehicle will be available for initial attack elsewhere if needed.”
Initially, five structures were reported burned, but reconnaissance deeper in the burned area found an additional three structures lost to the fire. Most of the structures are associated with the permanent residence that burned, including the attached garage and three outbuildings.
The DNR reported crews continued Thursday to work on remaining hot spots and smoking areas within 150 feet of the fire perimeter. The DNR reported plans are in place to transition the incident back to Park Rapids DNR Forestry Area on Friday afternoon.
DNR Forestry, Wadena Sheriff’s Department and fire departments from Sebeka, Verndale, Staples, Menahga and Wadena initially responded to the Jeep Fire on Sunday afternoon. These efforts were supported by a variety of air and ground resources. Initial attack and early suppression efforts were hampered by difficult access to portions of the fire, heavy fuel loading, strong gusty winds, warm temperatures, and low relative humidity.
Monday and Tuesday’s efforts focused on extinguishing areas of burning peat and mopping up within 150 feet of the fire perimeter. Fire Crews, assisted by two National Guard Black Hawk helicopters, progressed rapidly, the DNR reported.
Cooler temperatures and calmer winds on Tuesday helped firefighters achieve full containment with a mineral soil fire break around the entire perimeter by Tuesday afternoon.
Cool temperatures this week created obstacles for crews working with pumps and hose lays, the DNR reported. There was a concern for hypothermia for firefighters, but throughout the incident no injuries to either the public or firefighters was reported.
The fire was first reported about 4 p.m. April 8 by the Nimrod lookout tower. The suppression efforts were initially hindered by strong gusty winds and because portions of the fire were in areas difficult to access. Evacuations were ordered during the early night hours on April 8 to protect people in the path of the fire and to aid safety of responding firefighters.
While this fire is nearly out, residents are reminded to respect burning restrictions and call 911 immediately if a fire gets out of control, the DNR reported. Implementing “firewise” tips can help rural homeowners protect their homes. For more information, go online to www.dnr.state.mn.us/firewise/livingwithfire/index.html. All open burning is seasonally restricted with the exception of recreation fires that are contained within a receptacle designed for such fires. The public is reminded to be extremely cautious with any activities in the outdoors at this time that could start a fire, including cigarette smoking, cutting and grinding, and operating or parking all-terrain vehicles and other vehicles in tall grass, which is how the Jeep fire is believed to have started as a Jeep vehicle was in the grassy area near the fire’s origin.