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Wildfire burns 40 acres in Mission Township: Grass fires draw response across region over weekend

Multiple grass fires kept area fire departments busy over the weekend, including a wildfire that burned about 40 acres in Mission Township. Mission firefighters battled the 40-acre blaze that burned fields and woods into the early hours of Sunday...

Nancy Vogt / Echo JournalA Brainerd Helicopter Service helicopter flies over East Gull Lake.
Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal A Brainerd Helicopter Service helicopter flies over East Gull Lake.
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Multiple grass fires kept area fire departments busy over the weekend, including a wildfire that burned about 40 acres in Mission Township.

Mission firefighters battled the 40-acre blaze that burned fields and woods into the early hours of Sunday morning.

Mission Fire Chief Erick Makowski-Budrow said a call came in about 9:40 p.m. Saturday, May 11, for a fire in the woods off County Highway 11 and west of County Highway 19 in Mission Township.

Upon arrival, firefighters found a field engulfed in flames, having been on fire for quite some time-though Makowski-Budrow did not know how long-before a passerby called it in.

"It wasn't a fast-moving grass fire by any means, but because it had been burning for so long before anyone called it in, it was big," Makowski-Budrow said Sunday afternoon by phone. "The perimeter was around the entire acreage and into the woods, so it was challenging."

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He estimates 22 firefighters from Mission, Crosslake and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources were on scene until about 1:30 a.m., along with the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office and the Crow Wing County Drone Team to provide an aerial view.

The DNR is investigating the cause of the fire, but Makowski-Budrow said it looks to have been the result of some campfire activity.

No structures were damaged and no injuries occurred.

Earlier Saturday, a tree fell on a powerline, sparking an 8-acre grass fire about 1 p.m. off Green Gables Road in East Gull Lake.

Pillager Fire Chief Greg Ringler said the wind likely played a part in the incident, as the area was plagued with many dead trees from past years' storms. Because of all the dead trees making it difficult for crews to fight the fire on the ground, a helicopter from Brainerd Helicopter Service scooped water from Ruth Lake to douse the flames, while firefighters from Pillager and the DNR fought the fire from the ground for about five hours.

Minnesota Power and the Cass County Sheriff's Office were also on scene.

On Sunday afternoon, a call for the Brainerd Fire Department and the DNR came in just before 3 p.m. for a grass fire along the Paul Bunyan State Trail near mile marker 18 off Country Lane. Additional information on this grass fire response was unavailable Sunday.

As of Sunday, six of seven area counties faced moderate fire danger, with fires starting easily and spreading at a moderate rate, according to the DNR. Wadena County was under high fire danger. Burning permits were only issued by variance in Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Mille Lacs counties. No burning permits were issued in Wadena County, although campfires were allowed. Burning permits were required in Aitkin County.

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Monday was expected to deliver more dry weather, according to the National Weather Service, with a forecast high near 67 degrees and winds gusting to 15 mph. Tuesday may bring showers and possibly thunderstorms, with the NWS pegging the chance at 40% for precipitation. Skies are expected to be partly cloudy with a high temperature near 71 degrees.

The PineandLakes Echo Journal contributed to this story.

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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