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Rain doesn't help quench rash of fires

Firefighters from a number of agencies were gaining the upper hand on Saturday on a 200-acre fire in the Floodwood Lake area, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center said.

Firefighters from a number of agencies were gaining the upper hand on Saturday on a 200-acre fire in the Floodwood Lake area, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center said.

The fire, which began Friday and burned along state Highway 73, destroyed one outbuilding and had threatened other properties, said Jean Bergerson, the fire center spokeswoman.

Kim Maki, who lives on Floodwood Lake, said residents were impressed by the efforts to control the fire. "Floodwood Lake residents would really like to thank the firefighters," she said. "It's amazing."

Units from the U.S. Forest Service and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources fought the fire from the air, and out-of-state crews supplemented a number of local agencies on the ground, Bergerson said. She said the fire was expected to be "pretty well buttoned-up" by the end of the day Saturday.

Meanwhile, a group of fires in the Tower area has grown from five to six, a DNR spokeswoman said.

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The most recent fire, dubbed the Celina fire, started Friday afternoon and so far has been limited to 1.5 acres, Kathie Gustafson said. The fire is 12 miles west of Cook.

The Celina fire is being included in a group of fires covering more than 550 acres that the DNR is calling the Tower Complex fires.

One of the fires, the Benville fire between Babbitt and Benville, forced the temporary closure of St. Louis County Highway 21 on Friday because of smoke and firefighting traffic.

Weather conditions improved slightly on Saturday, with light rain across the region. But Kevin Kraujalis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth, said rain amounts -- especially in the Arrowhead -- weren't enough to help significantly.

"It's not going to be raining hard enough so that it's going to make a major dent," Kraujalis said. Northwestern Wisconsin was getting the most moisture.

And the forecast isn't promising, at least in the near future. Kraujalis said dry conditions should return today across the region. The next chance for rain isn't expected until late Wednesday.

Any good effects from Saturday's moisture will disappear quickly, Bergerson said. "The first day of sun, that will disappear."

Related Topics: FIRESFLOODWOODWEATHER
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