The Pagami Creek fire continued to move south and east in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on Sunday. Over the weekend, the estimated size of the fire-damaged area grew by more than 40 percent, from 3,200 acres Saturday morning to 4,500 acres Sunday.
Extremely dry conditions, high temperatures, low humidity and winds out of the northwest fanned the fire Sunday. Firefighters took action to keep the fire from spreading to the north and west, where it could have threatened private property in the Fernberg corridor. However, crews are allowing the fire to run its course to the south and east for now, monitoring the progress of flames.
To ensure visitors remain safe, the Forest Service has temporarily halted all access to the BWCAW through Lake One, Snake River, the Little Isabella River, Bog Lake, the Pow Wow Trail, Isabella Lake and Island River. People with prior permits to enter through the lake are being redirected to other entry points.
People already in the wilderness who wish to exit may still use these lakes to do so. Assistance retrieving vehicles will be offered to paddlers who decide to exit from a different point than originally planned in order to avoid the fire zone.
Several portages in the area of the fire have been temporarily closed. Campsites on the south end of Bald Eagle Lake are temporarily off limits, too.
Officials say the vast majority of the BWCAW remains safe and open to visitors. But campfires are now allowed only between 6 p.m. and midnight. Gas and propane stove are permitted anytime.
Winds are carrying smoke and ash from the fire throughout Cook County. Wilderness campers should check at ranger stations for campsite closures before entering the BWCAW.
Click here for more information from the Superior National Forest website.
Click here for more information from the Minnesota Incident Information System website.
Link to the Duluth News Tribune article on the fires.