Firefighters make progress on Agassiz NWR wildfire
Firefighters continue to make progress on a wildfire at Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge north of Thief River Falls. The so-called "Silo Fire" covers about 200 acres and was 15 percent contained as of Wednesday night, according to a news release ...
Firefighters continue to make progress on a wildfire at Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge north of Thief River Falls.
The so-called "Silo Fire" covers about 200 acres and was 15 percent contained as of Wednesday night, according to a news release from the refuge. The fire, which is burning in peat and forest duff, made no major increases in size as cooler temperatures and higher humidity worked in the firefighters favor.
Weather also aided in keeping the smoke in check as winds were predominantly out of the north, lessening the impact on refuge neighbors.
The Silo Fire began as a prescribed burn Aug. 23 and was burning as planned until a series of unseasonal wind and weather events the week of Oct. 5.
According to Richard Birger, fire information officer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, refuge personnel had been managing the fire until it began to worsen this past weekend.
Birger said the fire is concentrated near the west boundary of the refuge south of Marshall County Road 7 in an area comprised of hardwoods, aspen and peat.
Monday, a regional Fish and Wildlife Service firefighting team assumed command of the firefighting effort, Birger said. A total of 22 firefighters were on site Wednesday, along with 10 pieces of tracked equipment especially designed to work in marshland fire conditions.
Thursday's plan called for the addition of a tracked backhoe and "one or two" additional firefighters, Birger said. Because firefighters were still on site Thursday afternoon, he said additional progress reports on the fire wouldn't be available until Friday morning.
He said the fire crews are only working during daylight hours.
"It's really too dangerous to run a night shift," Birger said. "One of the problems is this fire is chewing away at the peat and the duff that's holding the trees up so as the fire takes away the supporting structure, the trees fall down and that's really a dangerous situation for firefighters."
Because of the fire, Agassiz personnel also decided to close more than 1,100 acres of the refuge to hunting from Nov. 4 -- the day before Minnesota's firearms deer-season -- through Jan. 1.
Birger said further details on the fire, including photos and maps, should be posted by midmorning Friday on the refuge's website at http://midwest.fws.gov/Agassiz and on the Incident Information System at www.inciweb.org.
Dokken reports on outdoors. Reach him at (701) 780-1148; (800) 477-6572, ext. 148; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .