by Mike Durkin 

by Shelby Capacio 


Smoke from the wildfires in the northwestern Minnesota town of Karlstad is drifting south with a cold front, hanging in the skies above northern counties.

Sheriff's officials in Beltrami, Cook, Itasca and St. Louis counties have been receiving reports of smoke from concerned residents in Bemidji, Deer River and Grand Rapids.

The smoke is being carried by strong winds out of the northwest and are being held close to the ground by inversion. The inversion is expected to lift by mid-day Wednesday, but residents across northern Minnesota may continue to see some smoke until the fires are extinguished.

Those who suffer from respiratory conditions like asthma are encouraged to keep windows closed or consider moving to another location while the smoke remains in the area.

Fire danger remains extreme to very high for much of Minnesota and fire restrictions remain in place. If you see an actual fire, call 911 and report it immediately.

On Wednesday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar met with Karlstad Mayor Nick Amb and area firefighters about the wildfire response and damage within the community.

"Today I saw firsthand the damage caused by the Karlstad fire, and the incredible effort by firefighters and volunteers from across the region and the state. Without their immediate help, the town would have been lost," said Klobuchar.

Though the town survived and no one was injured, the fire did claim several buildings as casualties. State officials say seven trailer homes, four houses, two garages and 22 other structures were destroyed.

On Tuesday, a school and a nursing home were evacuated, along with residents near the flames. About 400 people in the town of 800 were affected.

The fire is now 95 percent contained, and it's possible the area could be blanketed in 6 inches of snow on Wednesday night.