By Sarah Barchus
Residents were evacuated from smoke-covered Karlstad Tuesday afternoon when wind-blown wildfires burned down two homes, the Star Tribune reported.
The wildfire, called the Highway 27 fire, burned 500 acres Tuesday morning and destroyed two homes in the northwestern Minnesota town of about 570, the Star Tribune reported.
Jean Goad, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center, said residents were ordered to leave when the wildfire reached a "trigger point," the Pioneer Press reported.
"All around the city is on fire," City Clerk Sue Dufault said, and fire departments from as far as Grand Forks, N.D. came to help fight the blaze, the Pioneer Press reported. Goad said the National Guard sent two Blackhawk helicopters.
Karen Wikstrom, a waitress at the Nordhem Restaurant in Karlstad said, "It's so bad. Helicopters are dropping stuff. We can hardly breathe," the Star Tribune reported.
Dufault said authorities evacuated a nursing home, an assisted living center, a group home and some residents in the southern part of the city, the Pioneer Press reported. Wikstrom said that busses took students to the north side of the town and highways in the area were closed, the Star Tribune reported.
At Hallock, about 30 miles northwest of Karlstad, winds reached 43 miles per hour and the temperature was 73 degrees with a relative humidity of a very dry 19 percent. Those conditions, similar to weather experienced all over northern Minnesota, make it very easy to spark a fire even from mowing equipment or ATV exhaust, the Star Tribu