Fire near Ely slowing downby Jon Collins, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — As firefighters continue to battle a more than 120-acre wildfire south of Ely, authorities have lifted the evacuation order within city limits.
People living south of the city near Highway 1 should still stay away from their homes, said Minnesota Incident Command Center spokesperson Jean Goad.
The progress of the wildfire south of Ely has been slowed but not yet completely contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Five local fire departments, three helicopters and four air tankers were used to fight the fire. "With it this close to town, they'll work it this evening, but once it gets dark they'll pull the aircraft and work it with the ground crews," Goad said.
The southeastern corner of the city of Ely was evacuated Thursday afternoon as the fire neared the city.
U.S. Forest Service expects a special firefighting team to arrive at 10 p.m. The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office is also sending out their rescue squad, which will help residents if more people need to be evacuated from the area, said Sgt. John Skelton.
Goad said the fire was between a quarter and an eighth of a mile away from town Thursday evening. An outbuilding was the only structure that burned.
No injuries were reported.
Andy Messerschmidt lives about 12 blocks from where the fire line was Thursday afternoon.
"People standing around doing their normal business, I saw a guy mowing his lawn about 3 blocks away from the fire actually," Messerschmidt said. "Other people are in complete panic, they're evacuating homes and everything."
He said officials are on guard after last year's big fire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
"After the Pagami Creek Fire, I think everybody's playing it safe, so there's pretty much been sirens nonstop here the past couple hours," he said.
The fire was likely caused by a downed power line, said Becca Manlove, spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service.
Ely radio station WELY and MPR's sister station in Ely are both off the air due to the fire.
Scroll down to read live updates about the fire from social media.
- All Things Considered, 05/17/2012, 4:50 p.m.