The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Forestry Division wildland fire crews, along with local city, county, federal, township and tribal agencies responded to a wildfire in Pike Bay Township in Cass County, approximately one mile southwest of Cass Lake, on May 28 after a Cass County Sheriff’s Officer received a report of the fire at approximately 1:30 p.m.
The fire, now controlled and being monitored, originated south of Nary Road approximately one-half mile west of Hwy. 371 in a pine forest containing a significant amount of blow down material.
Ten residences were evacuated along Nary Road (156th St. NW). Local fire department engines protected the residences in close proximity to the fire. No damage to these residences has been reported, although some abandoned outbuildings were burned. The fire was contained at approximately 5:30 p.m. with a bulldozer line.
DNR wildland fire crews, engines and bulldozers from Bemidji, Blackduck, Park Rapids, Backus and Warroad worked to extinguish the fire along with crews from the U.S. Forest Service, Leech Lake Department of Resources Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Conservation Corps of Minnesota. In addition, eight fire departments provided structure protection, including Cass Lake, Bemidji, Lakeport, Hackensack, Walker, Backus, Blackduck and Solway.
DNR aerial support included two DNR CL-215 water scooping aircraft from Bemidji and Brainerd and two DNR helicopters with water buckets from Bemidji and Hill City. Several private contract bulldozers and a tracked vehicle were also provided..
The Cass County Sheriff’s Department was assisted by Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office, Leech Lake Tribal Police Department, Pike Bay Police Department and the Minnesota State Patrol.
The Salvation Army and Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe provided food and refreshments at the Pike Bay Town Hall.
Arson is suspected as the cause of the fire. A juvenile male found in close proximity to the fire scene was taken into custody by the Cass County Sheriff’s Department. DNR Fire Investigation Teams, in cooperation with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, continue to investigate the cause of the fire.