Skip to main content

West Zone Superior Fires

Unit Information

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

USFS Shield

Superior National Forest Fire Update for 8.19.2021

West Zone Superior Fires Wildfire
News – 8/19/2021

West Zone Fires:

Moose Lake Fire: The Moose Lake Fire was detected in the afternoon on August 18 near Britt, MN, south of Lake Leander and Lake 14. Air and ground suppression occurred immediately. A dozer line is around portions of the fire and will be improved today. Firefighters will secure line and continue mop-up operations.

Bunggee, Fourtown Lake, and Sundial South Fires: All three fires are located within the BWCAW closure area. The Fourtown Lake Fire was first detected on July 25 approximately 12 miles N of Ely. The fire is in containment lines at 265-acres. Due to limited resources, firefighters will be removed today and assigned to higher priority fires. The fire will be unstaffed but monitored by air. The Bungee and Sundial fires remain the same size, 3.5-acres and a quarter acre respectively, and show no fire activity. Both fires will be continuously monitored by air. 

Little Lake Road Fire: The Little Lake Road Fire was detected late on August 16. The fire is located approximately three miles SW of the Ely Airport along Little Lake Road.  It was observed in thick heavy timber is a half-acre in size. The fire is contained, being patrolled and monitored. This is the last report.

East Zone Fires

Whelp Fire: This lightning-caused fire is four miles NW of Sawbill Lake in a remote area of the wilderness. It is currently 15 acres. Yesterday it was observed to be very smoky on the NE side, creeping and smoldering. No fire-fighting crews have been sent in due to difficult access, limited aircraft resources, and safety concerns. Aircraft continue to perform water drops to suppress this fire. A Closure Order for the Louse River area is in effect, see closure section below for details. There are wilderness ranger crews paddling the Louse River to sweep visitors from the area.

John Elk Fire: The John Elk Fire started with a lightning strike and is three acres in size. It is in a remote area of the Wilderness, 2.5 miles south of Little Saganaga Lake. Yesterday, it was observed to be smoldering and creeping. Aircraft continue to drop water on the fire to limit growth. No fire-fighting crews have been sent in due to difficult access, limited aircraft resources, and safety concerns.

Clara Island Fire: This fire is located 10 miles NNW of Lutsen, outside of the Wilderness. It was detected on August 12 and is the result of an illegal campfire. This fire continues to show some heat and smoke but remains contained to the island. Crews set up a sprinkler system yesterday so that water can be used to cool the fire. This allows for water to be continuously added to the fire while also reducing firefighter exposure to falling dead trees. Aircraft and ground crews will continue to monitor.

Canada Fires: Quetico Provincial Park is managing several fires burning across the international border from the BWCAW. Three of those fires have potential to spread into the US near Crooked and Iron lakes.  Fire activity has been very active in Canada this week due to dry weather and breezy winds. Fire growth has been mainly towards the north due to south winds. The Forest is conducting daily monitoring flights over the fires and coordinating 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: The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air quality alert effective until 3 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 20, for the inland portion of Minnesota’s Lake County. For more information on current air quality conditions in your area and to sign up for daily air quality forecasts visit MPCA’s Air Quality Index webpage.

Closures:  There are three closures in place throughout the Superior National Forest: the Whelp Fire closure, the Greenwood Fire closure, and the Crooked Lake area closure. For details, visit the Superior National Forest webpage. With continued fires and a shortage of firefighting resources, these closures allow firefighters to focus on existing fires or new starts without worrying about public safety.

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. Please see Fire Restrictions Order and our Campfire Restrictions FAQ for more information.

The MN Department of Natural Resources has various fire restrictions throughout the state.  The burning restrictions reflect on-the-ground conditions and wildland fire response capacity as assessed on a county-by-county basis. Please see their website for additional details: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/index.html

Related Information