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Walz, U.S. Senators tour Greenwood Fire damage Monday

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ISABELLA, MN — Governor Tim Walz and several of Minnesota’s federal lawmakers are touring the damage left behind by the Greenwood Fire Monday morning.

Walz, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) started the day with a briefing from officials battling the wildfires.

They then set out to survey the damage near Isabella.

Portions of the Greenwood Fire are still raging on, leaving charred trees and burnt landscape in its path.

“I’m really struck by the places like this where there is such deep damage, and it’s going to take a long time to grow back,” Smith said.

Walz said being on the ground is helpful in learning about what firefighters and homeowners have experienced.

“As we came down here on Highway 2, we saw the thank you signs and homes that were saved because of the hard work, so my first thought is gratitude today for the work that has been done here,” he said.

State leaders took in the destruction and spoke with the crew who knew it well.

“I was talking with folks here from Idaho, from Illinois, from Connecticut,” Walz said. “These are our American neighbors who came here to Minnesota when we needed them. We help in other places, but I’m just grateful that they’re here.”

That feeling of gratitude is mutual.

Jim Grant with the Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 3 said, for crews on the ground, a visit from state leaders gave them a much-needed boost.

“Having those dignitaries, local or within the approximate area of the fire, is really showing support to the firefighters and the management team as well,” Grant said. “Having people come here, we get that feeling that we’re being looked out for, they care about us, and it makes us really proud of what we do.”

The senators plan to take what they learned from the tour to Washington next week.

Klobuchar said she hopes to bring more resources and better pay to firefighters.

“To get the funding in this big bill we’re working on for things like housing and child care is also going to include significant funding for forest management,” she said.

The politicians hope their legislation will help current and future fire fighting efforts.

“We know some of this is always going to go on,” Klobuchar said. “There’s always going to be forest fires, but we got to do everything we can to manage the forest better so it doesn’t get this close to homes, already burned down 57 structures, and we’re going to keep seeing this every summer if we don’t do something, one, about climate change and, two, about forest management.”

Cooler temperatures and weekend rain showers helped fire crews.

As of Monday morning, the Greenwood Fire burning west of Isabella, remained around 26,000 acres and was 37% contained.

To continue fighting the blaze, firefighters will head in by boat to begin constructing fire line east and west of Greenwood Lake.

As of 9 a.m. Monday, the Lake County Sheriff will open Highway 1 from Lankinen Rd. to the junction with Highway 2, for full time residents only.

Passes will be issued at the checkpoint to those homeowners.

For information about entering your property, call Lake County Dispatch, 218-510-0640 or click here to sign up for emergency text alerts and calls from Lake County.

Below are a list of the continuing closures:

• Hwy 1 is closed from New Tomahawk Rd to Lankinen Rd.
• A Forest Service closure order is in place to protect public health and safety due to the Greenwood Fire. It
extends across the Kawishiwi, Laurentian, and Tofte Ranger Districts. On September 1 the closure order was
updated to allow use of Stony Spur Trail and a portion of Prospector Loop Trail which allows ATVs to travel safely
from Babbitt to Ely. To see the full Forest order and other Forest closures, click here.

• A Temporary Flight Restriction for aircraft is in place over the fire area.

Briggs LeSavage

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