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BWCAW fire slowly grows near Ely

Ely area fire. Photo: USFS
Ely area fire. Photo: USFS

A fire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness about 12 miles northwest of Ely continued to slowly grow Tuesday. The Cummings Lake fire is now estimated to have burned across about 40 acres, Becca Manlove, spokeswoman for the Kawishiwi Ranger District of the Superior National Forest, said Tuesday. That’s up from an estimated 30 acres Monday.

The Duluth News-Tribune reports some 16 Forest Service personnel were on the ground cutting trees and digging a line around the fire that’s burning in a black spruce swamp.

Helicopters and airplanes also may be used to drop water on the fire as needed, Manlove said, but the fact that ground crews are working in the area is a sign the fire isn’t considered severe or fast-moving. Winds in the area remained light, helping firefighters get a leg up on the blaze.

A severe thunderstorm rumbled through the area early Tuesday evening but it wasn’t immediately clear how much rain fell on the fire. The National Weather Service reported a quarter-inch or more in Ely with more rain predicted for today.

The BWCAW remains entirely open for canoe travel and camping, but camping is not recommended on nearby Otter Lake because of smoke. So far there are no restrictions on campfires in the area although that could change any day if more rain does not fall.