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U.S. Forest Service explains obstacles facing fire crews as they fight Greenwood Fire

The Greenwood Fire in the Superior National Forest near Ely has grown to around 30 miles in size since it started just 10 days ago.

ELY, Minn. — Putting out a fire like the Greenwood is a massive task.

The Greenwood Fire in the Superior National Forest near Ely has grown to 30 miles in size since it started just 10 days ago.

There are more than 400 firefighters working to fight it, but there isn't anything they can do on the ground just yet.

It could have gotten its roots from actual roots from the trees of the forest.

"Basically, a lightning strike can hit a tree and generate heat, and heat can start burning the wood," said Tim Engrav, assistant forest ranger. "The soil is so dry right now the trees have the roots down there, they can actually be smoldering and burning for several days before we would even spot smoke coming from something like that.”

And once it starts smoldering from the roots and at the soil level, swift winds from the south is all it would take to turn the timber into literal firewood.

So when it's at the stage it is now, getting firefighting arms around it takes time.

"It really does take long when it's in the forest like this one is," Engrav said.

The air attack is first, but the aim of that isn't to put it out -- it's to calm it down to a point where it's safe to even try to get at it from ground level.

"It’s just too dangerous for firefighters to be in front of that on the ground because no amount of water from an engine or anything like that will be able to stop it at that point in time," Engrav said.

And that's the point in time they are in -- it's not yet safe to go at it from the edges, which is how they will go when they can.

"A fire this size truly won't be out until the snow flies but the crews that are working it will work toward containment," said.

"Containment" is the word you should be looking for in the coming days. Right now it is not contained at all, but hopefully by early next week they can get there.

   

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