Wadena County gets report on Green Valley Fire
By Rin Porter / Wadena Pioneer Journal
Sheriff Mike Carr delivered a riveting presentation on the activities that took place during the Green Valley Fire emergency from May 14 to 18 at the May 23 meeting of the Wadena County Board.
Assisted by Chief Deputy Bill Cross, Carr described the efforts of 53 agencies to fight the fire, evacuate a nursing home and more than 1700 other county residents, reroute traffic around the fire area, and provide food, water, and toilets to the firefighters and first responders.
Many of the details have already appeared in the media, but Carr wanted to praise the cooperation among law enforcement agencies and emergency responders, the DNR, Minnesota Incident Command System personnel, MnDOT, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Minnesota National Guard, and local churches and citizen volunteers.
The fire burned over 7,000 acres and destroyed 55 structures, but there were no deaths and no injuries – an amazing result, Carr said.
“We couldn’t have done it without the helicopters and planes [supplied by the Minnesota National Guard],” Carr asserted.
He said that Board Chair Dave Hillukka, who is the commissioner for the district where the fire took place, was on hand at the command center along with the Menahga mayor. Their presence was helpful to other local officials in making decisions and planning logistics.
“We pulled resources from everywhere,” Carr said.
The cost of the fire to the county in overtime and other expenses of the Sheriff’s Department was over $8,000. Sheriff Carr hopes that FEMA may reimburse most of these costs.
“It was a total team effort,” Hillukka said “These guys worked together as complete professionals.”
“This fire could have been a killer, but it wasn’t,” Cross said.
The new 800 mgH emergency radio system was an invaluable tool, Carr said. He compared the smooth communication during the fire to the communication chaos during the June 17, 2010, tornado, which occurred before the new radio system was installed in Central Minnesota.