Forest Service says lightning caused Minnesota wildfire

ISABELLA, Minn. (AP) — A wildfire in the Superior National Forest of northeastern Minnesota that crews have been fighting since the weekend has grown to 6 1/4 square miles (16 square kilometers), but U.S. Forest Service officials said Thursday morning that it grew little overnight.

The Forest Service said lightning caused the fire near Greenwood Lake, about 25 miles southwest of Isabella, which was first spotted Sunday. It grew from 5 square miles (13 square kilometers) to 6 1/4 by Wednesday evening, after what officials described as a “very active” afternoon of expansion on its western flank.

But in an update posted Thursday morning, Forest Service officials said there was no significant change overnight, which is often the case with forest fires. Thursday’s forecast in the area called for continued hot, dry weather, with thunderstorms expected Friday night and Saturday.

The fire led authorities to evacuate around 75 homes Monday near McDougal Lake, just north of where the fire started. Many dwellings in the area, which is deep in the forest, are seasonal cabins. Some small portions of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area to the north and northeast have been closed as a precaution due to the blaze and two smaller fires spotted over the weekend in the wilderness. No injuries and no damage to structures have been reported.

Crews are also fighting several smaller wildfires in northeastern Minnesota. Meanwhile, a series of explosive blazes propelled by gusts that have torn through Northern California mountains and forests.