Minnesota wildfire doubles in size and makes its own weather system

·2-min read

The Greenwood wildfire in Minnesota has doubled its size and created its own weather system of clouds, lightning, and rain, forcing firefighters to flee the area.

The rapid burst of fire led to pyrocumulus clouds specifically, otherwise known as fire clouds, which sit on top of a pillar of smoke.

Speaking in a Facebook video, fire behaviour analyst Michael Locke said: “The winds were drawn into the fire from all directions.

“It created what we call pyrocumulous clouds. And really high in the atmosphere ... you’d see a thunderstorm, and in fact they went high enough to produce a few sprinkles of rain and even some lightning.”

First observed on 15 August, the Greenwood fire, located in the northeast region of Minnesota, is believed to have started following a lightning strike. And while the fire has been steadily burning since it first started, it rapidly grew to more than 19,000 acres on Tuesday.

Since the beginning of the fire, more than 400 firefighters have been sent to the area and 300 homes evacuated. But in light of the sudden growth of the blaze, firefighters were ordered to flee the area.

While there were no injuries reported among the firefighters who evacuated, authorities say buildings may have been damaged. But fallen trees have prevented clean-up crews from looking at the damage.

Once wildfire conditions ease up, firefighters can return to the area. The fire continues to threaten cabins, homes, and recreational sites, the National Wildfire Coordinating Group said.

Nearby highways have been closed and planes cannot fly over the area.

Officials say vegetation in the area is extremely dry, creating ripe conditions for the wildfire to thrive in. But the fire is expected to die down with the rain expected in Minnesota.

The Greenwood fire is 0 per cent contained, however, officials would like the fire to be contained by 1 September.

The climate crisis is fueling hotter temperatures and droughts in Minnesota, making wildfires more frequent and intense.

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