BALL CLUB (AP) -- A fire that got out of control after it was set by forestry officials was declared 50 percent contained Friday evening.
Foresters intended to burn about 200 acres on Thursday to restore and maintain wet meadows along the Mississippi River. But the fire charred around 475 acres of grass, jack pine and spruce forest, said Cynthia Sage, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in Grand Rapids.
No buildings were damaged. Officials blamed an unexpected change in the weather for the fire's spread beyond the intended lines.
The affected land was in the Chippewa National Forest and the Leech Lake Indian Reservation, north of U.S. Highway 2 and west of Itasca County Road 39 in north-central Minnesota.
As of Friday night, 146 people were assigned to fight the fire and were mopping up within the fire line, working hot spots and patrolling cooler sections of the fire line.
Several fire engines, ground crews and water-dumping aircraft were used on the fire, said Ron Stoffel, supervisor of wildfire control efforts for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Grand Rapids.
Wet meadows are fire-dependent ecosystems on the floodplains of streams and lakes, and they provide habitat for a variety of wildlife species, including some rare bird species, officials said.
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