Smoke from wildfires blankets areaPublished 12:39pm Thursday, October 4, 2012
KARLSTAD — Evacuees were allowed to return home Wednesday in Karlstad after firefighters stopped a rapidly advancing wildfire from engulfing the small northwestern Minnesota town, but smoke from several fires in the area was causing concern for other residents as it blanketed a large part of northern Minnesota.
Updated figures show the wildfire destroyed seven mobile homes, four regular homes, two garages and 22 other structures in the Karlstad area Tuesday, said Jean Goad, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center.
The smoke was being carried as far as 200 miles away by strong winds out of the northwest and was trapped close to the ground by a temperature inversion, Goad said. The inversion was expected to lift and bring some relief Wednesday afternoon, she said.
“But folks in northern Minnesota are going to see smoke for a few days because there’s so much peat burning up here,” Goad said.
In Fergus Falls, a smoke smell permeated downtown Wednesday evening, and a haze blanketed the town.
Residents in the Bemidji, Deer River, Grand Rapids, Orr, Cook, Virginia, Hibbing and Tower areas — as well as Fort Frances, Ontario — were among those who reported seeing smoke and expressed their concern to local authorities, Goad said.