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BWCA remains closed as weekend rains move through the region

Firefighters prepare to be inserted into the BWCA by aircraft. Photo courtesy of USDA Forest Service
Firefighters prepare to be inserted into the BWCA by aircraft. Photo courtesy of USDA Forest Service

Following a week of smoke, wind and the near-constant threat of wildfires growing in and near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, weekend rains have allowed some community members to take at least a temporary sigh of relief.

The U.S. Forest Service is reporting the 26,000 acre Greenwood Fire near Isabella is now 14 percent contained. In a sign of the progress being made to fight Minnesota’s largest active wildfire, the Lake County Sheriff's Office announced over the weekend that some residents who were evacuated by the wildfire are now being allowed back to their properties. Most of the people allowed back own property near Slate Lake.

Fourteen homes or cabins and 57 outbuildings have been destroyed by the fire, according to the Forest Service. And while Isabella residents and others along Highway 1 near the small community remain on high alert, Ely, Finland and communities along the North Shore are not threatened by the Greenwood Fire at this time. The objective of fire management is full suppression using all available resources, the Forest Service said Saturday. The fire continues to threaten cabins, homes and recreational sites near the intersection of Lake County Highway 2 and Highway 1. The number of people working on the Greenwood Fire on Saturday was an estimated 500 firefighters and other personnel.

Meanwhile, The John Ek Fire in the BWCA remains at approximately 1,600 acres with minimal growth in recent days. The Whelp Fires, also in the BWCA, remains at 50 acres.

The BWCA remains closed to all visitors through at least Friday, Sept. 3.

Wildfires continue to burn in nearby Quetico Provincial Park, though weekend rains were reported across the border as well.