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'Suspicious' Wildfire In Beltrami County Prompts Multi-Agency Response

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- More than 80 firefighters, multiple aircraft and at least five government agencies responded to a wildfire in northern Minnesota Tuesday that authorities are now calling "suspicious."

The Beltrami County Sheriff's Office first received word of the fire on the 5700 block of Radar Road Northwest in Eckles Township around 3 p.m. Deputies initially responded, along with the Department of Natural Resources and the Bemidji Fire Department.

The fire was on both sides of the road and spread into a nearby forested area. As dry conditions encouraged the fire, the DNR issued a voluntary evacuation notice to nearby residents.

The fire was contained around 6:15 p.m., and the evacuation order was lifted.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, and the sheriff's office is asking anyone with information to call 218-333-9111.

"Not only were lives and homes threatened by this wildland fire but it also had a potential impact to farms and cropland in the area," the sheriff's office said.

Radar Road is still closed between Cardinal and Eckles roads.

The Solway Fire Department and Bemidji Police Department also assisted.

Most of Beltrami County is under a severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

"As the drought continues to worsen, conditions are expected to further deteriorate," the sheriff's office said. "Citizens are reminded to exercise incredible caution with all potential fire sources."

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