Superior National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
8901 Grand Ave Place
Duluth, MN 55808
Date: Wednesday, July 28, 2021 10:00 a.m.
East Zone Fire Information: 218-386-2750 or the Superior National Forest website: www.fs.usda.gov/superior
Description: Minnesota’s forests and grasslands continue to be plagued by drought, and are thus primed for an abnormally robust and problematic fire season. There are nine active fires on the Superior National Forest two on the East Zone (Gunflint and Tofte districts) and seven on the West Zone (Kawishiwi, LaCroix and Laurentian districts). Delta Lake Fire: Fire crews have, after weeks of arduous work, managed to achieve an estimated 92% containment of the 62-acre Delta Lake Fire. Aircraft continue to monitor the fire; no smoke has been detected in the last few days. Suppression repair and mop up operations are on-going. Phantom Creek & Bear Creek Fires: The10-acre Bear Creek Fire is located north of Mud Creek Road. The 3.5-acre Phantom Creek Fire is north of Wolf Lake Road, on the east side of Lake Vermilion. Both fires are within the BWCA Wilderness. Fire crews have laid hose lines around the firmly established perimeter.
Fourtown Lake Fire: The Fourtown Lake Fire, located within the BWCAW in the current closure area, is 12 miles north of Ely. The fire was initially detected during a monitoring flight on July 25. Gusty winds and higher temperatures on Sunday spurred the fire’s growth to its current size. Aerial surveillance continued Monday and a fire crew was flown in to assess the perimeter. Access was a challenge given the location, and firefighters’ safety was and remains the top priority. Fire managers weighed several management alternatives and determined the best course of action was to conduct an aerial “burn-out” operation in order to lead the fire to a natural barrier in a controlled manner. The weather window for such an operation was relatively brief, but yesterday’s weather conditions were favorable for the mission. The smoke that resulted from the deployment of the plastic sphere dispenser (PSD) that were used to ignite the aerial fire operation were visible from Ely and surrounding areas. The PSD is mounted on a helicopter and drops Ping Pong-like balls through a chute leading out of the helicopter. The balls, which contain a chemical oxidizing agent, ignite 25-30 seconds after being released from the helicopter. Once they hit the ground, they quickly ignite the vegetation on the ground.
Other Superior West Zone Fires: The Sundial South Fire, detected on July 21, still shows smoke and is currently being monitored, though not staffed. This area is particularly inaccessible to fire crews due to the remote location and hazardous fuels.
Two new fires were recently discovered: The Ima Fire is approximately five miles east of Snowbank, and the Slowfoot Fire is located one mile southeast of the Delta Fire. Two firefighters were in-place yesterday to assess the Ima Fire. The Slowfoot Fire will be continuously monitored, but not staffed. Any new starts in these areas will be fully suppressed by available initial attack provided by the team and local resources.
East Zone Fires: The Agamok Fire, located .25 miles east of the Kekekabic Trail, in the BWCAW on the Gunflint Ranger District was detected on July 25. It is currently 1-acre. Crews are constructing a saw line and a hose lay is in place. The Beth Fire was detected on July 26 near a portage between Grace Lake and Beth Lake, about three miles SW of Sawbill Lake in the BWCAW on the Tofte Ranger District. The fire is 2-acres in size. It is burning in hardwood litter and blowdown, and smoldering and creeping. Aircraft is being requested for bucket drops.
Canada Fires: The Quetico Provincial Park has several fires burning north of the international border from the BWCAW. Three of the fires have the potential to spread across the border into areas near Crooked and Iron Lakes. The Superior National Forest continues to monitor and assess these fires daily.
Air Operations: Two Fire Bosses (fixed-wing aircraft) are committed to the Forest to perform water drops as needed. Flying drones over the fire is prohibited. Air operations will stop if drones are detected in the area.
Closures: There are closures in place on the Kawishiwi and LaCroix Ranger Districts adjacent to the Canadian border in BWCAW. For details, visit the Superior National Forest webpage at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/superior/alerts-notices. The Superior National Forest continues to evaluate the closure areas to determine next steps. The closures will be in place until fires in the region are controlled and pose no imminent threat to visitors. Due to dry conditions, fire activity, and limited resources, the Superior National Forest has prohibited campfires in the forest and the BWCAW. Propane devices with 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.