By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hundreds of Minnesotans could get the green light to return to their properties later this week after the Greenwood Fire forced them to evacuate.

The fire still covers 26,000 acres near the North Shore. Now, fire crews have about 37% of its perimeter contained.

WCCO attended a community meeting in Finland Tuesday night, where families finally heard good news.

Brenda and Jeff Solomon have been staying in the Twin Cities after they were evacuated from the cabin they retired to last year on North McDougal Lake.

“It’s been a roller coaster not knowing what the damage was,” Brenda Solomon said. “Our neighbor called us and she said, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s happening! The fire is coming into our area!’”

The Solomons lost their lake deck, a shed and their wooden canoes.

“This fire went right up to our cabin, I mean literally,” Jeff Solomon said. “We had a fern garden right off of our porch that was burned, but our cabin was not hurt.”

(credit: CBS)

They are grateful it wasn’t worse, as four other nearby properties burned to the ground. Eight more were lost on Middle McDougal Lake — a chimney marking all that remains of one place.

Carey Johnson is Lake County’s sheriff.

“That’s tough telling them that, whether it’s a family cabin or their home, you know, one of which was a four-generation family cabin that, it was completely gone,” Johnson said.

He expressed relief at Tuesday night’s meeting now that containment lines are growing, night shifts are ending for firefighters, and more than 200 property owners could be allowed back in by week’s end. Colleen Schmidt was also evacuated.

“Just super thankful for these guys and the sheriff and all the volunteer firefighters and the crews and the loggers that have been working,” Schmidt said. “It did not look good for our home, and we thought we lost our future, and it was OK.”

Lightning sparked the fire. The U.S. Forest Service can’t say for sure when the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area will re-open. It’s closed through at least Friday.

Liz Collin