Skip to main content

Wildfire in northwest Minnesota has scorched nearly 13,000 acres

It's one of the largest wildfires in Minnesota in recent history.
 A shot of the wildfire as it burned Monday night into Tuesday morning. 

 A shot of the wildfire as it burned Monday night into Tuesday morning. 

What started as a grass fire Monday afternoon erupted into a fast-moving wildfire that came within two miles of a small town in northwest Minnesota. 

Now dubbed the Oxcart Fire, this wildfire rapidly spread and has now scorched an estimated 12,907 acres. The fire is 40% contained, though additional containment progress could be made Wednesday as winds have died down and cooler temperatures are encompassing the state. 

Leanne Langberg of the Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS) told Bring Me The News that drier and windier conditions are expected in the coming days, meaning fire crews will continue to treat hot spots in an effort to prevent the fire from escaping containment. 

Numerous aircraft and a dozen local fire departments have tirelessly worked to contain the blaze, with fire crews focusing their energy on establishing a containment line and protecting structures. The east edge of the wildfire came within two miles of Mentor, a town of just over 200 residents in Polk County. 

Remembering the monster wildfires in Minnesota history

The Oxcart Fire started in dry grassland within the Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge on Monday, which due to dry conditions, very low humidity, warm temps and strong winds was a perfect day for rapid fire growth. 

The fire started near U.S. Highway 2, with smoke and fire progression prompting law enforcement to temporarily close stretches of Highways 2, 32 and 45 near the fire. 

Fire-scorn land at Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge Kiosks, three miles south of U.S. Highway 2 on State Highway 23.

Fire-scorn land at Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge Kiosks, three miles south of U.S. Highway 2 on State Highway 23.

At nearly 13,000 acres burned, the Oxcart Fire is the largest wildfire in Minnesota in nearly a decade. 

"Comparatively we are seeing similar wildfire conditions to 2012 wildfire season," said Langeberg. "That year the Wannaska Complex burned 32,239 acres between September 29, 2012 through October 2, 2012. It was a combination of four fires in the Warroad areas."

In 2011, a lightning strike ignited a fire that wound up burning 93,000 acres in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. 

Travelers near Mentor should expect to see fire equipment active in the area in the coming days. In the meantime, Langeberg says people should avoid burning where fire conditions are still high – which is nearly the entire state. 

fire_danger_large

Next Up

Screen Shot 2023-01-29 at 1.54.31 PM

Missing: Minnesota man last seen in Sioux Falls area

Aaron Pearson, 41, was reported missing on Thursday.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 7.45.44 PM

Protest for Tyre Nichols to be held outside MN Governor’s Mansion

Activists groups say they’ll call on Gov. Tim Walz and the Legislature to implement police reforms.

Pool

Minnesota pool contractor banned from industry, must pay $2 million-plus

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed suit against Charles Workman and his company, MN Crete Pools, LLC, in August.

Minneapolis police

St. Paul man identified as victim of north Minneapolis homicide

The shooting occurred on the 2200 block of Emerson Avenue North on Wednesday.

ambulance

Two youths seriously injured after being struck by driver in Bloomington

Police say the boy is in a critical condition, while the girl has severe injuries.

Rosedale Center

Two men sentenced for carjacking in Rosedale Center parking lot

Leon Kismit Bell, 49, and Jack Mitchell Piche, 23, were sentenced in U.S. District Court on Jan. 20.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 3.59.30 PM

Police identify White Bear Lake officer shot while serving warrant

The officer is a six-year veteran of the department.

abortion, planned parenthood

Minnesota Senate passes bill codifying abortion into state law

Having already passed in the House, it will now be sent to Gov. Tim Walz for signing into law.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 7.45.44 PM

Tyre Nichols: Initial police version of events bear similarities to George Floyd killing

Memphis PD said Nichols complained of 'shortness of breath' following 'confrontations' with police, who in reality violently beat him.

Related

greenwood fire

Minnesota's Greenwood Fire explodes to nearly 20,000 acres

It's the largest wildfire in Minnesota in nearly a decade.

Remembering the monster wildfires of Minnesota's history

Recent, large wildfires in Minnesota are nowhere near the size of these monsters.

Minnesota still below average for wildfires

Minnesota officials have counted 997 wildfires in the state this year, surpassing 2011 by about 300 fires. But the average for the state is a little more than 1,500 wildfires, and in some years in recent decades Minnesota has had as many as 3,000 blazes.

Another large wildfire erupted in northern Minnesota on Tuesday

Warm temps with low humidity and strong winds were the fuel.

greenwood fire

Greenwood wildfire doubles in size to 2,000 acres; 75 homes evacuated

Highways are closed and people are being evacuated as the wildfire grows.

Massive wildfire in northwest Minnesota finally contained

The wildfire exploded overnight Sunday into Monday.

Greenwood Fire

Greenwood wildfire doubles in size, now in excess of 9,000 acres

There are almost 300 personnel fighting the fire.

Extreme wildfires possible across Minnesota again on Friday

A red flag warning has been issued for the northern two-thirds of the state.