Greenwood Fire more than doubles in size, causing 'fire-created lightning'

Crews in the air and on the ground were pulled from the fire attack efforts for their safety. The Red Cross has established an overnight shelter in Babbitt.

Smoke plumes over the Greenwood Fire near Isabella, Minnesota, on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. Contributed / Joe Thorne
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The estimated size of the Greenwood Fire has more than doubled since Monday to 19,493 acres.

Extremely dry vegetation, warm temperatures and gusty wind increased the wildfire activity Monday. So much so that the fire developed a pyrocumulus cloud and fire-created lightning, according to Superior National Forest officials.

"The cloud was visible for miles in all directions and smoke and ash from the fire were reported as far away as Lutsen," the agencies fighting the fire said in a joint news release.

Smoke plumes over the Greenwood Fire near Isabella, Minnesota, on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. Contributed / Joe Thorne


Crews in the air and on the ground, as well as the heavy equipment, all had to be pulled from the fire attack efforts for their safety. They planned to return to areas Tuesday, as conditions allow.

Firefighters will assess the fire's progress and size, while trying to protect structures where it's safe to engage.

Crews will use heavy equipment to reinforce the southern side of the fire. Containment of the fire was 0% as of Tuesday morning.

The lightning-caused Greenwood fire was first detected Aug. 15, about 15 miles southwest of Isabella. Nearly 160 dwellings have been evacuated as the fire threatens cabins, homes and recreational sites. Evacuations include the areas of McDougal Lake, Sand Lake, the Lake County Highway 2 corridor and an area north of Minnesota Highway 1.

An evacuation site set up by the American Red Cross at the Babbitt Municipal Center, 71 South Drive, has transitioned from a temporary evacuation point to an overnight shelter to help anyone displaced by the fire. Disaster relief teams are on hand to provide safe shelter, food, emergency relief supplies, emotional support, health services and current disaster information, according to a news release from the Red Cross. Those evacuating to the shelter are encouraged to bring prescription medications, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies and other important items.

Four water bombers, dwarfed by the Greenwood Fire, collect water from a lake on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. Contributed / Joe Thorne

Sign up for emergency text alerts and calls from Lake County at or call Lake County Emergency Management at 773-844-6449 for information.



  • Lake County Highway 2 is closed from Forest Highway 11 to Minnesota Highway 1.
  • Highway 1 is closed from New Tomahawk Road to Lankinen Road.
  • Part of the Superior National Forest is closed. It extends across areas within the Kawishiwi, Laurentian and Tofte ranger districts.
  • A temporary flight restriction is in place over the area.
  • The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness closed to all visitors for seven days beginning Saturday.

This story was updated at 5:51 p.m. Aug. 24 to include information about the overnight shelter in Babbitt. It was originally posted at 12:22 p.m. Aug. 24.

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