Strong winds and vast amounts of dry wood have fueled the wildfire in Minnesota’s north woods to an unprecedented size. The blaze covers nearly 160 square miles and has already consumed 100,000 acres of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, making it one of the largest forest fires ever in Minnesota, according to the Star Tribune.
Smoke and ash plumes were blown hundreds of miles away forcing the Milwaukee Brewers to close their retractable roof for yesterday’s home game. The National Weather Service said that some people in Chicago, 400 miles south of the blaze, reported burning eyes and difficulty breathing.
The fire began on Aug. 18 after a lightning strike started a small blaze.
While officials have stated that no structures have been damaged and no one has been hurt, 36 homeowners who live along the southern edge of the fire left late Monday and early Tuesday. About 200 residents from, Isabella, a small town close to the blaze, are ready to evacuate if needed.
Joyce Kuehl, who has lived in the area for 15 years, told the Star Tribune that many people in the community have been worried about a fire like this since high winds in 1999 blew down 370,000 acres of trees within the BWCA.
About 300 people are fighting the fire with the help of the Air National guard.