TOWN OF GORDON, Wis. (AP) — A smoky wildfire in northwestern Wisconsin that destroyed dozens of buildings and forced at least 60 people from their homes was almost contained Wednesday, state officials said.The wildfire has consumed about 8,700 acres in Douglas and Bayfield County but is about 90 percent contained, meaning firefighters have largely arrested the spread of the fire, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources spokesman Kevin Harter said Wednesday morning.
“It’s one of the largest fires in the last couple decades,” Harter said.
At least 60 people evacuated their homes and 22 of them stayed overnight at a high school in Drummond, 60 miles southeast of Duluth, Minn., the DNR said. Forty-seven structures were destroyed, including 17 homes, but firefighters were able to save 77 other buildings, Harter said.
“Even though we lost some structures, there were no injuries and people were cared for,” Harter said.
DNR officials say the wildfire was first reported Tuesday near the Town of Barnes. Conservation wardens went door-to-door to alert area homeowners of the fire danger, and residents evacuated lake homes and cabins in the area Tuesday night.
A shelter and a fire command post were set up in Barnes Tuesday evening, but they were moved as the fire grew. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation closed state Highway 27 after the fire hopped over it northwest of Barnes Tuesday. The highway was reopened Wednesday.
Harter said two Black Hawk helicopters from the Wisconsin Army National Guard and two “waterbombers” fixed-wing aircraft from Canada will assist firefighter with aerial support Wednesday. Crews from 19 fire departments and 52 fire trucks are in the field, he said.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.