Grass fire blazes through Independence swamp

A grass fire burned through over 50 acres of a swamp in Independence, near City Hall the evening of May 7. The fire burned into the morning hours of May 8. (Submitted photo)

On May 7, at 8:30 p.m., West Hennepin Public Safety Department and Maple Plain Fire Department were dispatched to a grass fire northwest of Maple Plain at Highway 12 and County Road 90 in the City of Independence. Upon arriving, WHPS Police Officers located a moderate fire burning in the middle of a large swamp directly east of Independence City Hall.

The fire was approximately 100 feet by 100 feet when fire crews arrived and quickly grew to a large fire burning over 50 acres of a 160-acre swamp.

The fire continued to burn all night and into the morning hours, until it was extinguished around 3 a.m.

Officers discovered that the fire actually started in the middle of the swamp completely covered in cattails and water. WHPS is leading the investigation as to the cause of the fire. Arson is not suspected and the fire is not related to any burn permits.

Due to the location of the fire, it was very difficult to put out the fire. The DNR worked closely with Maple Plain Fire to extinguish the fire. However, they were unable to use their water deployment helicopter during the night time hours. The helicopter was planned to arrive in the morning to assist in putting out the fire.

During this event Highway 12 was closed for four hours between County Road 83 and County Road 90. Many local roads were closed during this same time frame to keep roads open for emergency vehicles that responded.

No property has been damaged and nobody has been hurt throughout the emergency so far.

WHPS extended their thanks to the many staff, reserve officers, firefighters, and public works employees for their assistance for closing roads and handling traffic diversion. MnDOT has already put up two electronic message boards on Highway 12 that say, ‘Controlled Burn Ahead’ to help with the morning traffic congestion along Highway 12.

As of early this morning, all roads are open for normal traffic. Police and fire crews have cleared the scene, but will be monitoring the area regularly.