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Near-blizzard conditions hit Hubbard County, and worse up north, Thursday. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Hubbard County experiences wild weather

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news Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Enterprise
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Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Hubbard County saw a manic-depressive weather pattern this week that left fire damage, smoke and then a winter weather advisory, all within 48 hours.

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It left law enforcement agencies and fire departments scrambling to keep up, but snow Thursday immediately took care of the fire danger.

Tuesday a 40-acre fire broke out in northeastern Hubbard County started by a spark from a baler. Homes were evacuated for a few hours until the danger had passed.

Fire crews, helicopters and planes rushed to the area as the tiny town of Karlstad, just south of the Canadian border, burned.

A second fire outside of Laporte Tuesday evening burned trees after a cutting torch ignited leaves outside the city. A few homes were evacuated and vehicles were immediately removed from the area until the fire was extinguished.

The county's Global Connect mass warning system was activated Tuesday afternoon.

But it seemed to have a mind of its own.

"The notice was intended to be sent to 72-households in the immediate area of the fire," said Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes in an e-mail.  "When it was sent however, the system began a 'county wide' notification. The company put a stop to the countywide message but not before some calls were initially made to others in the county (including some in the Park Rapids area ... and my residence as well). The system then completed its notification to those 72-households asking them to evacuate."

Aukes reported this glitch to the county board Wednesday morning.

"Well, it just shows how much you care about the county," joked commissioner Lyle Robinson.

"We are very sorry to those that received the notice to evacuate in error," the sheriff's e-mail continued. "The employees here at the Sheriff's Office take pride in how they do their job on a daily basis and truly get frustrated when the equipment we use doesn't function like we would like. Our emergency notification system has been a work in progress but its potential makes it worth having it."

By Wednesday, winds had switched and smoke was pouring into Hubbard County, carrying smoke from the Karlstad and other fires in the region.

This prompted numerous calls to agencies all over again.

Beltrami County issued a news release Wednesday morning asking residents not to call unless they saw flames because the dispatch center was so overwhelmed.

Aukes gambled on Global Connect. Wednesday afternoon Hubbard County residents got the call about smoke from the fires up north, reassuring residents all was well.

This time the system worked flawlessly.

And by the time near-blizzard conditions hit Thursday noon, a travelers' advisory was out.

And the fire danger was hidden under a wet white blanket.

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Sarah Smith
Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.
(218) 732-3364
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