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Greenwood Fire doubles in size; BWCA closure extended

Plus: Minnesota Supreme Court declines to hear appeal by Line 3 opponents; judge says GOP donor Lazzaro must remain in jail while facing sex trafficking charges; former Viking Herschel Walker files to run for U.S. Senate in Georgia; and more.

Firefighters battling the Greenwood Fire in Superior National Forest.
Firefighters battling the Greenwood Fire in Superior National Forest.
U.S. Forest Service - Superior National Forest

FOX 9 reports: “The Greenwood Fire burning in the Superior National Forest more than doubled in size in the last 24 hours, and is now estimated to be nearly 19,500 acres. At last check, the fire was 0% contained. The U.S. Forest Service said Monday’s warm temperatures and gusty winds, paired with the extremely dry vegetation, fueled fire activity. A fire cloud was visible for miles in all directions, and smoke and ash from the fire were reported as far away as Lutsen and Grand Marais. … The fire is threatening homes, cabins and recreational sites. New evacuations were triggered Monday north of State Highway 1 and east of the Slate Lake area. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office has issued evacuation orders for McDougal Lake, Sand Lake, the Highway 2 corridor and north of Highway 1 near East and West Chub lakes, Jackpot, Slate Lake and the Mitawan Lake Road area.”

The AP and WCCO-TV say: “The U.S. Forest Service says all permits for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) are canceled for another week as more wildfires pop up in the area. The BWCAW was originally set to be closed through Aug. 27, but the closure has been extended a full week, though Sept. 3. Refunds will be granted. USFS officials say four new fires broke out in the area on Tuesday alone.”

For the AP, Steve Karnowski says: “The Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear an appeal by opponents of Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 oil pipeline, letting stand a key decision by independent regulators to allow construction on the project to proceed. Without comment, the state’s highest court declined to take the case, issuing a one-page order that effectively affirmed a decision in June by the Minnesota Court of Appeals. And it left the Native American and environmental groups that have been protesting at construction sites across northern Minnesota with a dwindling number of legal options.”

In the Star Tribune, Andy Mannix reports: “A judge ruled on Tuesday that prominent Minnesota GOP donor Anton ‘Tony’ Lazzaro must remain in jail while facing charges of sex trafficking underage girls, rejecting the defense’s plea to release him to his downtown Minneapolis condo. U.S. Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer said Lazzaro’s ‘tremendous’ financial resources and international connections made him too much of a flight risk and that keeping him in jail would make it less likely he would be able to contact his victims. The 4 ½-hour detention hearing provided the first detailed account of the allegations against Lazzaro. Appearing in orange jail garb, Lazzaro did not speak, other than to declare his plea of not guilty on all 10 counts.”

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For KSTP-TV, Tommy Wiita reports: “Attorneys representing former Minneapolis police officer J. Alexander Kueng have filed a motion to prohibit any live video or audio coverage of the upcoming trial, stating that Kueng has now withdrawn his consent. According to the court filing submitted Tuesday, the motion will be officially be requested in court on Sept. 9 in front of Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill.  On Nov. 20, 2020, the court issued an order that allowed audio and video coverage of the joint trial of Kueng, Thomas Lane, Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao. The defense claims that the ‘worldwide publicity from the televised coverage of the Chauvin trial’ has impaired Kueng’s right to a fair trial.”

MPR’s Paul Huttner says, “Our next major weather system rolls into Minnesota Thursday and Friday. Several waves of thunderstorms should cross Minnesota, with the heaviest rainfall likely south of a Fargo to Duluth line. … This system looks capable of dropping widespread 2” to 5”+ rainfall totals across especially central and southern Minnesota by late Friday. Rainfall totals look lighter in northern Minnesota, but could exceed an inch by Friday evening.”

In the Star Tribune, Neal Justin reports: “Scott Hansen was signing autographs after his 2019 New Year’s Eve show at Maple Tavern when a stranger approached him and grabbed both his hands. ‘This is hard for me, but I was going to kill myself this afternoon,’ Hansen recalled the fan saying. ‘But I came to the show and I feel better about my life. I can laugh again.’ Hansen says that the Maple Grove gig might be his last. The 66-year-old comic, who is credited with jump-starting the stand-up scene in the Twin Cities, was speaking by phone from his bed where he’s been laid up since doctors gave him less than six months to live. … Hansen has been dealing with health issues for years.”

WCCO-TV reports: “Former Minnesota Viking Herschel Walker on Tuesday filed paperwork to enter the U.S. Senate race in Georgia after months of speculation, joining other Republicans seeking to unseat Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in 2022. Walker, 59, joins the race with high name recognition, having won the Heisman Trophy in 1982 as a University of Georgia running back. Perhaps more importantly in today’s Republican Party, he carries the backing of former President Donald Trump.”

This from Jade Bremner of The Independent: South Dakota’s coronavirus cases have jumped by more than 300 per cent, in two weeks, following the famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which saw more than 500,000 people descend on the town. The Sturgis event contributes an estimated annual revenue of $800 million to the town of Sturgis, which has a population of around 6,600. According to New York Times coronavirus data, there has been a staggering 352 per cent increase in cases in the state in the past 14 days, averaging 243 cases and 123 hospitalisations daily. The same festival last year was dubbed a ‘super spreader’ event, as coronavirus cases accelerated following the rally.”

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