Wind-driven fire burns homes in Minnesota

County 27 fire
County 27 fire
County 27 fire, photo by LOWFisherman

Update at 9 p.m. CT, October 3, 2012:

MNICS, the Minnesota Incident Command System, has provided more information about the County 27 fire near Karlstad and the Minnie fire near Fourtown.

County 27 fire:

The fire has burned 4,700 acres and is 5 percent contained. Despite the best efforts of firefighters, 4 residences, 7 mobile homes, 2 garages, and 22 outbuildings were lost.

Minnie fire:

This fire made made an 11 mile run to the northeast on Tuesday and is now approximately 24,700 acres. It had very active fire behavior on Tuesday in an area with unsecured line on the north side. Several trail and roads in the area were closed on Wednesday.


Originally published at 12:04 p.m. CT, October 3, 2012

Strong winds in northwest Minnesota on Tuesday caused at least two fires to grow substantially, with one of them destroying half a dozen homes.

County 27 fire:

The County 27 fire burned into the south edge of the community of Karlstad. Much of the town was evacuated and six to eight homes were lost on the southwest side of the town, according to the Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS). By Wednesday morning firefighters had stopped the spread of the fire.

National Guard Blackhawk helicopters, a BAe-146 air tanker, and CL-215 air tankers assisted ground-based firefighters in suppressing the fire. Other smaller aircraft were grounded due to the strong winds, including light helicopters, single engine air tankers, and light fixed wing aircraft.

BAe-146 on the County 27 fire
BAe-146 on the County 27 fire, photo by LOWFisherman
CL-215 on County 27 fire
CL-215 on County 27 fire, photo by LOWFisherman

It is interesting that the area in which these fires burned was not covered by the red flag warning that was in effect for much of the state of Minnesota on Tuesday.

Other photos of the County 27 fire near Karlstad can be found at the Minnesota Public Radio web site.

The winds at the AGZM5 weather station Tuesday afternoon were measured at 15 to 26 mph with gusts up to 41, and the relative humidity bottomed out at 17 percent. During the night and on Wednesday morning the winds calmed down, blowing at 4 to 9 mph.

The map below shows the approximate location of the County 27 fire near Karlstad, according to heat detected by satellites. There are reports that the fire jumped U.S. Highway 59 and crossed Kittson County Highway 9, but did not move past Minnesota Highway 11.

Map of County 27 fire, Karstad, Minnesota
Map of County 27 fire near Karstad, Minnesota, October 3, 2012, showing heat detected by satellites. (click to enlarge)

Minnie Fire:

The Minnie Fire, near Fourtown between Upper Red Lake and Lake of the Woods, was 600 acres when the last report was filed on October 1 at 1 p.m., but Tuesday’s very strong winds caused it to spread approximately 8 miles to the northeast, adding, according to our rough estimate, an additional 25,000 acres.

Map of Minnie fire
Map showing Minnie fire, October 3, 2012

On the map of the Minnie Fire below, the red squares represent heat detected by satellites between 2:14 p.m. CT on Tuesday and 2:14 a.m. CT on Wednesday.

Map of Minnie fire
Map of Minnie fire, 2:14 am CT, October 3, 1012. MODIS, Google


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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

One thought on “Wind-driven fire burns homes in Minnesota”

  1. The Red Flag warning for Karlstad was issued at 510 AM for the time period from 11 am to 7 pm on Oct 2. The Red Flag Warning map referenced in the article was probably captured before that time period.

    Based on the Red Flag criteria, it appears that the conditions for a Red Flag warning verified about the same time as the start time of the warning. I am guessing that there was not a Fire Weather watch that morning because of the Red Flag warning from the previous day. See pg. 18:

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