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National Guard helping fight state forest wildfire in northwest Minnesota

BEMIDJI, Minn.—Gov. Mark Dayton has ordered the Minnesota National Guard to help in fighting a wildfire in the Beltrami Island State Forest in northwest Minnesota.

The 500-acre wildfire broke out Wednesday, Aug. 22, as the result of of a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources prescribed burn meant to help manage brushlands, according to a release from the governor's office.

Kristi Coughlin, a public information officer for the DNR, said that the fire started during a prescribed burn in the forest's Moose River Wildlife Management Area. The blaze jumped a road meant as a border and traveled into the Red Lake Wildlife Management Area, which is much drier than the Moose River portion of the forest.

The blaze was limited to state lands within the forest, as of Thursday afternoon. No structures or private land are threatened, according to the release. Much of Beltrami Island State Forest is in Lake of the Woods and Roseau counties.

The Minnesota National Guard will provide two water-dropping helicopters, one able to dump 660 gallons of water at once, and another that can dump 2,000 gallons.

Coughlin said the National Guard was on the scene Thursday afternoon, and that firefighting efforts were going well.

Fire danger in that portion of the county is "extreme," according to the DNR's website. The remaining areas of Beltrami County are listed in the "very high" fire danger category.

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