Officials investigate fires in north-metro suburbs

COLUMBUS, Minn. (AP) âÄî A wildlife area in the northern Twin Cities suburb of Columbus was engulfed by fire Monday afternoon, and nearby residents were asked to evacuate. Anoka County dispatchers said smoke from the fire in the rural area near Ham Lake and East Bethel could be seen from as far away as Blaine and New Brighton. Authorities are investigating that blaze, as well as other grass fires that happened Monday north of the metro area. Spring Lake Park-Blaine-Mounds View firefighters battled three fires early Monday, all within hours of each other. District Chief Garrett Parten says it’s unclear if the fires are related. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is also investigating.