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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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Superior NF Fire Fact Sheet for 8/17/2021

West Zone Superior Fires Wildfire
News – 8/17/2021

West Zone Fires:

Bunggee, Fourtown Lake, and Sundial South Fires: All three fires are located within the closure area of the BWCAW.  The Fourtown Lake Fire was first detected on July 25th and is located within approximately 12 miles north of Ely. The current size is 265 acres and continues to stay within containment lines. Six firefighters are staffing the fire and continue to mop up and further secure lines.  The Bungee Fire was first detected on July 30th. The 3.5-acre fire has control line around it and very minimal fire activity has been observed in the last week.    The Sundial South was detected on July 21st, this fire is a quarter-acre in size. It is particularly inaccessible to fire crews due to the remote location and hazardous fuels. Fire activity remains minimal and will continue to be monitored by air.

Little Lake Road Fire: The Little Lake Road Fire was detected late in the evening on Monday, August 16th.  The fire is located approximately 3 miles SW of the Ely Airport along Little Lake Road.  It was observed to burning in thick heavy timber and to be about a half-acre in size.  Along with Forest Service engines, Ely Fire Department was also essential in the initial attack last night. Firefighters placed a hose lay along part of the perimeter. An engine and other resources as available will continue to fully suppress and mop up the fire today. 

East Zone Fires

John Elk Fire started with a lightning strike and is in a remote area 2.5 miles south of Little Saganaga Lake in the Wilderness.  No fire-fighting crews have been sent in due to difficult access, limited aircraft resources and safety concerns. Crews will be put on the ground to fight this fire as soon as possible when conditions are safe.  A helicopter with water drops is being used to knock down flames and limit the spread.  It remains at 2 acres, smoldering and moving slowly.  There are two wilderness ranger crews paddling the Louse River to contact permittees in the area and update them on fire conditions. 

The Whelp Fire,another lightning-caused fire, is 4 miles west/northwest of Sawbill Lake.  Similar to the John Elk Fire, this fire is in a remote area of the Wilderness.  More fire activity was observed yesterday with some tree torching and the fire increasing in size. No fire-fighting crews have been sent in due to difficult access, limited aircraft resources and safety concerns. Crews will be put on the ground to fight this fire as soon as possible when conditions are safe.  Aircraft will continue to perform water drops to suppress this fire as we gather information. There are two wilderness ranger crews paddling the Louse River to contact permittees in the area. It is currently between 10-20 acres.   A Closure Order for the Louse River Area will be posted today.

The Clara Island Fire is located 10 miles NNW of Lutsen and outside of the Wilderness.  This fire was discovered on an island on August 12th and is the result of an illegal campfire.  This fire continues to show some heat and to put up smoke.  Crews and aircraft are being used to suppress this fire and keep it contained to the island.

The Pelt Lake, Tomlinson and Homestead Fires are all small fires (1 acre or less) that started outside the Wilderness that are now contained and controlled. They will continue to be monitored daily.

Canada Fires: Quetico Provincial Park continues to manage several fires burning north of the

international border from the BWCAW. Three of these fires have potential to spread across the border

into areas near Crooked and Iron Lakes. Due to the last few days of drying, fire activity has been observed to be active.  A smoke column was visible from the United States yesterday.  The fires have pushed to the north but are also backing towards the United States border. The Forest continues to conduct daily monitoring flights over the fires and coordinate with counterparts in Ontario. For more information on the fires in Ontario and for an interactive fire map visit: https://www.ontario.ca/page/forest-fires.

Air Quality: For more information on current air quality conditions in your area and to sign up for daily air quality forecasts and alert notifications by email, text message, phone, or the Minnesota Air mobile app, visit MPCA’s Air Quality Index webpage.

Closures: Closures remain in place on the Kawishiwi and LaCroix Ranger Districts until August 20 and will continue to be evaluated. For details, visit the Superior National Forest webpage at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/superior/alerts-notices. With continued fires and a shortage of firefighting resources, the closure allows firefighters to take immediate action on existing fires or new starts without having to evacuate wilderness campers.

Effective today, a Forest Service closure is in place across the forest and into a small portion of the Wilderness across the Kawishiwi, Laurentian and Tofte Ranger Districts. The forest is implementing a closure in the forest and into a small portion of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness due to the Greenwood Fire. This includes all lands, waters, trails, portages, canoe routes, Wilderness entry points, and recreation sites as shown on the map, exhibit A, in the closure order. Private property owners can access private property. State Highway 1 and 2 are excluded from the order

An Emergency Closure Order is in place for the McDougal Lake Campground, the McDougal Lake Boat Ramp, the McDougal Lake Picnic Area and the McDougal Lake Trailhead and Trail (trail 71078).  An Emergency Closure Order will be posted today for the Little Isabella Campground and….For updated information, visit the Superior National Forest webpage at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/superior/alerts-notices.

Fire Restrictions: Due to continued long-term drought conditions and limited fire-fighting resources, the Superior National Forest is not allowing campfires within the Forest boundary on National Forest lands, including the BWCAW. Propane devices with an on/off switch are permitted, including lanterns, stoves, and firepits. Campfires are NOT allowed at any BWCAW campsites, backcountry campsites, or rustic campgrounds, even in designated fire rings or grates. Please see Fire Restrictions Order and our Campfire Restrictions FAQ for more information.

To help ensure public safety and protect natural resources, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is expanding burning restrictions across portions of central and northern Minnesota, beginning 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, August 17. Burning restrictions will now cover 34 counties where intensifying drought has elevated the potential for devastating wildfires.

The burning restrictions reflect on-the-ground conditions and wildland fire response capacity as assessed on a county-by-county basis. Under the DNR's latest order, some counties are seeing burning restrictions for the first time this year, while some others are seeing increased restrictions and some are continuing with their previous level of restriction.  Please see their website for additional details:  https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/index.html

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