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Progress anticipated in containing Green Valley Fire

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“We’ll make a lot progress today,” said incident commander Mike Aultman of the Green Valley Fire that scorched 7,100 acres in three counties.
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Calm winds were allowing 40-some fire departments to get control of a brush fire that has consumed 12 structures and 43 other buildings, including two turkey barns.

Evacuees will be allowed to return to their homes in the contained area at noon today. The fire is regarded as only 25 percent contained, but “containment” is a technical term.

Essentially the 9-mile swath through Becker, Hubbard and Wadena counties is surrounded by heavy equipment and trenches.

Firefighters are moving from hot spot to hot spot, dousing or containing the fires in that bulldozed perimeter. One-hundred fifty feet inside that line was the target area that would theoretically stop the spread.

“We absolutely do not want to lose any more personal property,” DNR public information volunteer Ron Sanow said at Thursday morning’s media briefing.

In some cases that means letting flames burn.

Air and ground attacks continue in the most compromised areas, Sanow said.

Sanow said he had no clue how many people were evacuated when the blaze began Tuesday afternoon in Becker County.

“Evacuation took place under chaos,” he said Thursday. “I don’t have a good solid number.”

Sightseers were a problem Thursday and Hubbard County Emergency Management Director Brian Halbasch was asking the public to stay out of the burned area through the weekend.

“It’s been a traffic nightmare,” he said. Roads that can barely accommodate an emergency vehicle have been clogged with sightseers. Those roads are getting beaten up by traffic and pose an additional hazard, he said.

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Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers Hubbard County, courts and breaking news.

(218) 732-3364
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