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UPDATE: Crews battling wildfire in Kittson County northwest of Lancaster

LANCASTER, Minn. -- Crews from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Lancaster Fire Department and other fire departments from around the area continued to battle a large wildfire Tuesday evening that started earlier in the day about 10 miles northwest of Lancaster, Minn., in Kittson County before crossing into Manitoba.

“DNR firefighters and the Lancaster Fire Department are on the ground and will be calling in extra resources,” Christi Powers, an information officer for the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in Grand Rapids, Minn., said Tuesday afternoon.

As of 7 p.m. Tuesday, the fire, which which started in Clow Township, was estimated at about 1,500 acres in size, and the right flank of the fire was burning across the Canadian border from Lancaster, the Minnesota Incident Command System said on its Twitter feed.

The blaze started in grass and jumped a gravel road as it burned north, driven by west-southwest winds of 37 mph, Powers said.

“There’s no natural fuel break between where the fire is headed and Manitoba,” Powers said. “Right now, we haven’t heard about any structures, and that’s all the information I have at this time.”

Additional damage reports weren’t immediately available.

Besides ground crews, multiple DNR air tankers and heli-tankers were dispatched to the area of the fire, Powers said, along with two CL-415 water bombers from Kenora, Ont.

The wildfire comes on a day when the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning for northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota that remained in effect until 8 p.m. The relative humidity Tuesday afternoon in Lancaster was 13 percent, a level that causes fuel to ignite quickly when combined with strong winds.

“Grass is a flashy fuel and it spreads quickly,” Powers said. “Rates of spread on a day like today are pretty high.”

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is a reporter and editor of the Herald's Sunday Northland Outdoors pages. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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