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Ely fire 60 percent contained; crews working mop-up today

Firefighting crews near Ely today are working on mop-up of the Highway 1 fire which threatened the town earlier this week. Residents of a few homes along Highway 1 south of Ely, who had been asked to stay away as a precaution, will be allowed bac...

Structures along Minnesota Highway 1 south of Ely
Firefighting crews work to protect structures along Minnesota Highway 1 south of Ely Thursday afternoon from a quickly moving wildfire. The fire grew rapidly due to high winds and prompted evacuations in the city of Ely. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

Firefighting crews near Ely today are working on mop-up of the Highway 1 fire which threatened the town earlier this week.

Residents of a few homes along Highway 1 south of Ely, who had been asked to stay away as a precaution, will be allowed back today, said Jean Goad, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in Grand Rapids. Minnesota Highway 1 remains closed to traffic.

The fire is 60 percent contained, Goad said at midday today. It has burned about 180 acres; that's down from previously stated figures because of more recent, better mapping of the fire zone.

Ground crews are working on mop-up around and 100 feet inside the perimeter of the fire, to minimize the chance of any sparks drifting outside the containment lines, Goad said. No air crews were working as of midday today.

There was no rain in Ely overnight, and fire danger remains high across the area today. Temperatures in Ely at midday were about 80 degrees, with south winds gusting to more than 20 mph. There is a good chance for showers and thunderstorms across the region overnight.

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The Highway 1 fire started about a mile south of Ely at about 1:45 p.m. Thursday from sparks from a downed power line. It spread rapidly northward toward the community before an aerial firefighting attack and a slight wind shift combined to stop the fire's progression.

No one was injured and no homes were lost, although three outbuildings did burn.

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