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Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - Members of the Minnesota National Guard are being deployed in northern Minnesota to help battle wildfires.

Governor Tim Walz has signed an executive order authorizing a request for support that was submitted by the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in response to a major forest fire burning in the Superior National Forest. The Greenwood Fire near the town of Isabella and, at last report, had consumed several hundred acres and was growing rapidly due to strong winds and extremely dry conditions.

“The Minnesota National Guard is ready to assist firefighting efforts in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center, and the State Emergency Operations Center.” said Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke, Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General. “We take pride in being able to answer the call to serve our fellow Minnesotans.”

The firefighting mission will include two Black Hawk helicopters with water buckets and fuel trucks from a St. Paul-based unit and the 48th Fighter Wing based in Duluth. 16 soldiers and two pilots are being activated for the mission and are expected to arrive in the Warroad area today.

Meanwhile, a specially equipped Black Hawk helicopter from a St. Cloud National Guard unit remains in Washington State to help fight fires. That mission was originally scheduled to last two weeks, but the National Guard says the deployment could be extended depending on whether their help is still needed.

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