Firefighters gain ground on BWCAW fireCool, wet weather conditions help crews contain blaze
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
Firefighters made modest progress Sunday slowing the progress of a blaze that has burnt across 93,898 acres of forest, mostly in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. At last report, Sunday the fire was 11 percent contained — up from Saturday’s 8 percent containment estimate.
Wet, cool weather, with humidity levels above 40 percent, aided fire crews Sunday, as they worked to subdue the fire. Firefighters also have taken steps to protect 30 structures on the south side of the fire.
Work also continued Sundayon a spike camp near Isabella that will provide hot meals, shower facilities, toilets and camp accommodations for more than 250 personnel.
Winds blew out of the south and southeast at 10 to 14 mph Sunday, with gusts of 18 to 23 mph.
Scattered showers throughout the day were expected produce less than one-tenth of a inch of accumulation.
Temperatures in the Ely area were expected to top out at about 57 degrees Sunday.
The fire, located about 14 miles east of Ely in the Pagami Creek area between the South Kawishiwi River, Clearwater Lake and Lake One, is believed to have begun Aug. 18 as the result of lightning activity.
While many entry points to the BWCAW have been closed because of the fire, several remain open, including: those along the Echo Trail (i.e. Mudro), Moose Lake, Wood Lake, Fall Lake, Trout Lake, Entry Point No. 42 on Brule Lake, No. 54A on Seagull, No. 55 A on Saganaga, and the small separate section northeast of the Gunflint Trail from No. 58 on South Lake on the west to No. 70 on North Fowl to the east.
As for roads, Highway 1 remains open.
Closed to traffic in Lake County are the following: all roads north of Highway 1 from Forest Road 1468 east to Isabella; Wanless Road (FR172) east to Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7; Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7 and Hoist Creek Road; and Highway 1 and East Grade Road.
In Cook County, a road block has been established at the intersection of Sawbill Trail and Four-Mile Grade (Cook County Road 3 north of the intersection has been closed). Meanwhile, Four-Mile Grade is closed between Forest Roads 339 and 340.
Because of earlier drought conditions, the risk of fire remains high in the Superior National Forest area, and a forest-wide ban remains in effect for campfires, charcoal fires wood-burning camp stoves and charcoal grills. Use of pressurized liquid gas stoves is still allowed.
With grouse season beginning, hunters have been warned to be alert when passing through areas where the fire has been active. In places with shallow soils, trees that are still standing in the fire zone could be compromised and prone to falling, especially in windy weather.