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Official: Crews Battling Intense Fire Near Menahga

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Web Extra: Photos Of The Fire

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) –Crews are battling a fire about two miles north of Menahga, Minn., according to officials with the Interagency Fire Center.

Structures have been lost, officials say, but it is not known if they were homes or cabins. The number of lost structures is also not known. 

No injuries have been reported, but evacuations have occurred. 

Early reports put the fire at 6 miles long and ¾ mile wide, according to the Incident Command System. The intensity of the fire is perceived as high, as the tops of trees were engulfed in flames.

The Department of Natural Resources is using a water-scooping plane, two single-engine air tankers and a helicopter to fight the fire. However, ice on northern Minnesota lakes is making it difficult for the firefighters to scoop up water. Menahga is about 80 miles east of Moorhead. 

Numerous fires started across the state on Tuesday — a day in which temperatures climbed into the triple digits and winds gusted up to 40 mph. Two fires started near Red Lake and burned actively, but rain kept one from spreading.  The total acreage affected was mapped at 4,900 acres.

An incident management team has been moved from the fires near Red Lake to help deal with the Menahga fire. Also, Gov. Mark Dayton signed an emergency order on Tuesday, allowing the National Guard to help fight fires across the state. 

In addition to the Menahga and Red Lake fires, another burned in Minnesota northeast of Camp Ripley, threatening structures, according to the Incident Command System. In Wisconsin, a fire raged in Douglas and Bayfield counties, forcing evacuations. 

Aircraft also responded to fires near Park Rapids, Virginia, Salo, Sturgeon Lake, Hinckley, Wright, and Atkinson, the Incident Command System said. 

Wednesday looks to hold cooler temperatures and lighter winds, but it will still be dry. Thus fire danger will remain high. Thursday afternoon offers the first possibility of significant rain. 

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