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John Ek & Whelp Fact Sheet for 8.26.2021

John Ek Fire Wildfire
News – 8/26/2021

Overview: Yesterday showed minimal fire activity on both fires.  Unless weather conditions do not allow, firefighting resources will be inserted into the Whelp Fire today, while the John Ek Fire will continue to be monitored by air.

John Ek Fire: The fire is 2.5 miles south of Little Saganaga Lake and extends from John Ek Lake to the SE corner of Elton Lake. The John Ek Fire remains at about 1,563 acres. Plans are being developed to begin ground reconnaissance on Friday, August 27.

Water drops will be performed as necessary if the fire becomes active. There are no mandatory evacuations in Cook County at this time. Homeowners in Cook County can sign up for the emergency alert system CodeRED at The Cook County Sheriff’s Office recommends that residents and visitors be in “ready” mode in case of eventual evacuation.

Whelp Fire: The Whelp Fire is a lightning-caused fire located five miles northwest of Sawbill Lake and is an estimated 50 acres. Firefighters will be inserted today. They will establish communications, set up a spike camp and began taking action on the fire.

Closure Update: The Superior National Forest is closing national forest lands and roads along the upper portion of the Gunflint Trail. County roads and private roads, including the Gunflint Trail, remain open. The closure includes all national forest lands and roads along Cook County 12/Gunflint Trail beginning at the Cook County 92 intersection to the end of the Gunflint Trail. The closure area includes Trails End and Iron Lake campgrounds. Campground reservations have been cancelled and refunded for the next seven days, through August 31. The closure is consistent with the Cook County Sheriff’s pre-evacuation area for the upper Gunflint Trail area due to the John Ek Fire.The closure includes all lands, waters, trails, portages, campsite, canoe routes, and Wilderness entry points in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The Forest has notified permit holders and outfitters and is cancelling permits August 21 through September 3. For details on closure areas, visit the Superior National Forest webpage. With continued fires and a shortage of firefighting resources, closures allow firefighters to focus on existing fires or new starts without the concern for public safety. 

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

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has various fire restrictions throughout the state. The burning restrictions reflect on-the-ground conditions and wildland fire response capacity, assessed on a county-by-county basis. Please see their website for additional details:

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