Weather, hard work slow spread of fire in BWCAW

By Tim
Spielman
Associate Editor

Ely, Minn. — One-thousand-three-hundred acres and $1.8 million
dollars after lightning started a forest fire in northern
Minnesota, officials on Tuesday said the fire was about 45 percent
contained. And future weather promised more good than bad for
firefighters.

Dewey Hanson, of the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center, said
this week the end to a fire that’s blazed since Aug. 6 appeared in
sight.

“I think we’ve turned the corner,” he said Tuesday. “The weather
helped, but it came down to the people on the ground and in the
aircraft.”

Earlier this week, 268 fire workers and two helicopters battled
the flames. The workers came from the states of Indiana, Ohio, West
Virginia, and Missouri; others were members of the Interagency
team.

Hanson said the fire was entirely within the Boundary Waters
Canoe Area Wilderness, and some of it included an area of downed
trees left from a July 4 holiday storm in 1999, though the area of
the fire didn’t include the most extensive blowdown areas, he
said.

The fire’s suppression costs continued to grow. Much of that
cost was the investment in firefighting crews in Minnesota and out
of state. Further, “The CL-215s (airplanes) have flown many, many,
many hours,” said Hanson, who estimated the air time at about 300
hours.

The Gunflint Trail area, between Alpine, Seagull, Red Rock, and
Grandpa lakes, received about a quarter-inch of rain Tuesday
morning; there was a good chance of more later that afternoon and
evening.

The fire line on Tuesday was about 10 miles long.

Hanson said preparation agencies had done in anticipation of
potential fire in the blowdown area was now being put to use.

“It’s been coming together – prior planning, having resources
available, and good, hard work have paid off,” he said.

Three minor injuries – a broken finger, sprained ankle, and
twisted knee – were the only injuries sustained during the fire
fight.

As of Tuesday, 18 wilderness campsites remained closed. For more
information, BWCAW visitors may call (218) 387-3221 or go online at
www.mnics.org.

Categories: Hunting News

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