Firefighters plan controlled burn today in BWCAWLabor Day weekend vacationers in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness might have to adjust their plans today as firefighters seek to contain a wildfire in a popular area.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
In a news release, the U.S. Forest Service said a controlled burn is planned today to reduce fuel for the Pagami Creek Fire, which was first detected on Aug. 18 and has consumed 130 acres of woodland.
The controlled burn, or “burnout,” will take place between the fire and Lakes One and Two. The two portages between those lakes will be closed for a period of time during the burnout. Visitors with travel plans including those lakes are most likely to avoid delays if they cross the portages before 2 p.m. today, the news release said.
Visitors also should be aware that they probably will see and smell smoke today. People with a history of cardiac or respiratory illnesses should be aware that the smoke may be heavy at times and may be present for several days in the fire area. Visitors also should expect to hear pumps running as part of sprinkler systems used to dampen fuels along the portages. Aircraft will be heard and seen in the fire area.
The portages will be reopened as quickly as possible, the news release said. Public safety crews will be on hand to escort paddlers.
It also was noted that the operation is weather-dependent and could change on short notice.
The fire, which was caused by lightning, is being managed by more than 100 wildland firefighters from several agencies. Lightning-caused fires in the wilderness area are mostly allowed to run their course. But firefighters hope to use the controlled burn to reduce fuels that might allow the fire to threaten private properties along the Fernberg corridor or affect the Lake One and Lake Two area.
A drying pattern is expected soon, the news release said. Despite recent showers and cooler conditions, the fire danger in the Boundary Waters region remains high.