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Area fire crews battle brush fire in Cass County, schools evacuated

BEMIDJI -- Area fire crews are battling a brush fire south of Cass Lake. The fire was reported at about 1:30 p.m., witnesses told the Pioneer, and officials are using aerial and ground efforts to combat the fire. The staging area for firefighters is at the Pike Bay Town Hall, officials said. The fire was reported to be located south of 156th Street NW, across the street from Cass Lake Bena High School and schools were evacuated, witnesses said. 

"I was right across the train tracks in Cass Lake when it happened," said Michael Northbird of Cass Lake. "Cops flipped their lights on around 1:40 p.m."

Northbird said he saw a huge black plume around 2 p.m. "It took the sunlight out, it was so thick," Northbird said.

There were two spot fires approximately 200 yards from structures at 3:45 p.m. At that time, Walker and Hackensack were still coming.

Helicopters and tankers (that's the technical term for water bombers) were containing the west edge of the fire.

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