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West Zone Superior Fires

Unit Information

Superior National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
8901 Grand Ave Place
Duluth, MN 55808

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Delta & Astray Fires Fact Sheet for July 8, 2021

West Zone Superior Fires Wildfire
News – 7/8/2021

Description: On July 7, 2021, two wildfires were reported on the west zone of the Superior National Forest, one within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in Lake County. Northeastern Minnesota has been experiencing drought conditions with frequent thunderstorms and lightning.

  • The Delta Fire is approximately 10 acres in size and burning in heavy blowdown with Spruce budworm killed balsam fir. The fire is located south of Snowbank Lake on the Kawishiwi Ranger District, approximately 19 miles east of Ely. It is believed to be caused by lightning.

  • The Astray Fire is approximately one-quarter acre in size and located inside the BWCAW, east of Clearwater Lake. The fire is within mixed timber and blowdown. It is located 11 miles east of Ely and is presumed started by lightning.

Status and Resources:

DELTA FIRE:  Yesterday afternoon the fire was detected burning in blowdown with numerous spot fires. Aircraft initially responded with water drops on the intense fire activity, thus allowing firefighter crews safe access from the ground. Due to the thick blowdown, firefighters are cutting out safety zones, escape routes, and establishing a helispot for safety and gear transport. Crews will then suppress hot spots and work on establishing a fire line around the fire’s perimeter. Current fire activity is smoldering and creeping.  Currently, six firefighters, one light helicopter, two off-Forest engines, and one local fire engine are assigned to the fire. More staff may be directed to the fire as needed.


This fire was also detected by aircraft yesterday afternoon. The fire is located within the BWCAW, east of Clearwater Lake in mixed red and white pine. One crew of five firefighters are enroute to the fire. Aircraft will assist the crew with fire status and help guide the crew into the remote location. fire season and especially problematic fire behavior. Please use caution when participating in recreational activities this weekend that could ignite a potential wildfire.

Additional Resources: Three additional fire engine modules are staffing across the Forest including off-Forest resources from the Bureau of Indian Affairs-White Earth Reservation, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. A 20-person Hotshot crew has been ordered for future initial attacks or new fire starts. However, national fire support and is proving challenging due to national and local resource shortage.

Closures and Safety Message:

There are currently no fire specific area Forest closures; however, visitors should continue to be aware of the dry conditions and expect to see aircraft being used for fire response and detection. 

While allowing wildfires to play their natural role in wilderness is an important consideration, safety of the public and fire personnel is the top priority for the Forest in managing naturally occurring wildfires. Many factors go into the decision-making process including weather, drought, and proximity to people and structures. The Forest is actively suppressing these current wildfires due to the proximity to heavily used recreation areas, roads, trails, structures, limited resources both locally and nationally, continued forecasted drought conditions, and locations having minimal nearby natural features to contain them.