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Never-before-seen photos show cabin damage from Greenwood Fire

The fire burned nearly 27,000 acres in the Superior National Forest and is about 80% contained.

MINNEAPOLIS — The Greenwood Fire is still burning in northeastern Minnesota but it could be fully contained by Oct. 14.

It's now burned about 27,000 acres.

Lightning sparked the fire that was discovered in the Superior National Forest on Aug. 15. Fire danger in the state was quite high then, but according to the Department of Natural Resources, it's now low across the entire state.

Pat Prochaska's home was barely spared by the fire and, for the first time, he's sharing photos of the aftermath.

Credit: Pat Prochaska
This photos shows Pat Prochaska's boardwalk at his cabin after the fire.

"It was shocking," said Prochaska, who lives in Minneapolis fulltime and works as a dentist.

Surveillance video from Aug. 23 showed the fire sweep through Prochaska's property — the day the fire doubled in size.

"It was a ways away to right on top of us in a matter of hours," he said.

A shed, and everything inside, was destroyed. So, too, are the trees on his 18 acres. Prochaska is left to only look at old photos of them in their full, green glory.

"That was 30 to 40 feet from those two watering cans that didn't even get touched," Prochaska said about items that were spared, including his cabin, which even mystified local law enforcement.

Credit: Pat Prochaska
Watering cans outside Pat Prochaska's cabin remain untouched after the Greenwood Fire raged through his property.

"When we went to the checkpoint and told them where we were going, I gave the address and you could just see his little wheels working in his head and he said, 'Oh, you're the cabin that survived,'" said Prochaska.

Melted siding and some cracked windows are the only scars to show on the cabin that escaped what its neighbors couldn't — one just right across the road.

More than a dozen primary homes burned down. Prochaska says he's positive a dirt trench around his cabin, the asphalt roof and defensible space helped.

"It was my habit in June every year to mow around that whole circle around the house," he said, also citing the lack of rain as a reason the fire didn't reach further. "That whole area was almost dirt, which I think was a helpful thing because there wasn’t anything to carry the fire towards the house."

A good lesson for anyone living in the forest, that while beautiful, can be ripe for wildfires. 

Prochaska has been allowed to visit his property twice. The main highway is still partially closed. But if you're visiting the National Forest or Boundary Waters, all the restrictions have been fully lifted.

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