Welcome to the BWCAW blog of Ely Outfitting Company and Boundary Waters Guide Service!

See our websites at ElyOutfittingCompany.com and BoundaryWatersGuideService.com.

We are a Boundary Waters canoe trip outfitter, Quetico outfitter, and guide service in Ely, Minnesota. This Boundary Waters blog shares photos, stories, humor, skills, and naturalist insights from guiding in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

Most entries are from our founder and head guide, Jason Zabokrtsky. He is the Boundary Waters Blogger.

Friday, September 30, 2011

BWCAW Fire Restrictions Lifted

Fire restrictions have been lifted. Campfires are now allowed within firegrates in the Boundary Waters at any time of day.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

BWCAW Closure Map as of Sept. 26

Some previously closed areas of the Boundary Waters have been reopened by the USFS.  This map shows current closures.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pagami Creek Fire USFS Update - Sept. 26

With the Pagami Creek Fire now 53% contained and almost a thousand people assigned to the incident, we are going to stop posting these daily updates.  Of course, we will provide important news as it arises. 

TODAY'S MESSAGE: The Pagami Creek Fire is now 53% contained. Size remains the same at 93,459 acres. Today warmer dryer weather will increase the likelihood for fire activity, and smoke may be visible. Aerial patrol will continue to search for new spot fires and assist ground crews with bucket drops as needed. Yesterday, air resources dropped 267,000 gallons of water, delivered 11,000 pounds of cargo, and conducted 3 reconnaissance flights.
ACTIVITIES TODAY:
· Rehabilitation work will begin on dozer lines outside the wilderness areas.
· New resources will be transitioning with resources timing out.
· Line construction and mop up continues along the fire perimeter.
UPCOMING EVENTS: A community meeting will be held today at the Northern Tier Boy Scout Camp at 2 p.m., and tomorrow at the Isabella Community Center at 11 a.m.
WEATHER AND FIRE BEHAVIOR: Weather will remain similar to the last two days with some clouds, highs in the upper 60s, lower humidity in the 40% range, and variable winds between 8 -10 mph, with gusts up to 17 to 18 mph. Tomorrow and Wednesday will be warmer, with highs near 70, and slightly windier, with gusts in the teens. A drying trend is expected to continue until Wednesday night. The extended forecast calls for a chance of rain to return to the area Wednesday evening into Thursday. Warmer, drier air is expected to increase fire activity with the possibility of producing more smoke.
AREA/ROAD CLOSURES: Some Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness entry points remain closed for day and overnight use. For a complete list of closures, please visitwww.fs.usda.gov/goto/superior/home.
Highway 1 is open. The following roads, trails, and areas are closed: FR 381 north from the intersection with FR 377 (Tomahawk Rd.) and all areas north and east of FR 381; FR 373 (Northwest Rd.) south from FR 377 to the intersection of FR 369 and all areas north and east of this route; FR 369 east from the intersection of FR 369; FR 373 to the intersection of FR 369 and Lake Cty. Rd 7 (Cramer Rd./Windy Lake Rd.) including all areas north of this route; all areas to the west of Lake Cty. Rd. 7 between the intersections with FR 369 and FR 354 (Cty. Rd. 7 is open for travel); and FR 354 north from the intersection with Lake Cty. Rd 7 and all areas west of FR 354.
DETECTED: August 18, 2011
CAUSE: Lightning
ACREAGE: 93,459
LOCATION: The fire started approximately 13 miles east of Ely.
RESOURCES: There are 968 people assigned to the incident, which is a temporary increase as new crews checked in the day before outgoing crews checked out. Crews consist of 15 hotshot (Type 1) crews, 12 Type 2 crews, and four camp crews. Air operations will continue to support the fire suppression efforts as needed.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

American Black Ducks in the BWCA


The American Black Duck is more brown than black. It was named as such because it appears black from a distance. We spied these ducks recently, camouflaging themselves surprisingly well among the lilypads, which still had a bloom or two remaining. See how many ducks you can spot in the two photos. (Click the photo to see it larger.)

These ducks spend their summers all over the eastern half of Canada and New England, with a few all the way over here in the midwest. Like many birds, these ducks are now migrating south to the eastern half of the US for the winter.


Their numbers have been declining steadily since the 1950s. Ducks.org reports that mallards' upward-rising numbers may possibly be causing this, or possibly interbreeding and/or competition between the two closely-related species.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

BWCAW Campfires are Now Allowed from 6PM to Midnight

We just received a phone call from the Forest Service.  They have relaxed the BWCA campfire restrictions.  Campfires are now allowed in designated BWCAW firegrates between the hours of 6PM and midnight only.  Thank the recent rain. 

Pagami Creek Fire Update - Sept. 22

TODAY’S MESSAGE: The Pagami Creek Fire remains at 30% contained and 93,669 acres. Between 0.2–0.5 inches of rain fell on the fire area yesterday. Since Sunday, 0.75–1 inch of rain has fallen on the fire. Three crews will be flown into Kawishiwi Lake today to start work on the eastern perimeter. On the southern perimeter, crews brushed over 2 miles of road, built 500 feet of dozer line, and 1000 feet of saw line.

ACTIVITIES TODAY:
·         Inventory fire line and develop a rehabilitation plan to mitigate the effects of fire suppression.
·         Backhaul hose and pumps on the northwest side where the fire is controlled.
·         Use fire line explosives to construct 0.25 miles of fire line on the northern perimeter.
·         Establish a spike camps on Kwashachong and Square Lakes. Begin direct-line construction from Square Lake to Stringer Lake and to Fungus Lake.
·         Continue to construct fire line, scout for hotspots, and mop up.

UPCOMING EVENTS: Community meetings are scheduled for this Saturday (Isabella Community Center, 11:00 a.m.), Sunday (VCC theater, 2:00 p.m.), and Monday (Northern Tier Boy Scout Camp, 2:00 p.m.). 
                                                                         
WEATHER AND FIRE BEHAVIOR: Thursday will be cool and cloudy with a slight chance of showers. Temps will be in the high 40s. Northwest winds will 8–12 mph with gusts to 18 mph. A drying and warming trend will start Friday and extend into the weekend with highs in the mid to upper 60s. A season ending event for this area is considered 2 inches of rain over a three day period. Despite recent rains, the area is still in a 2–2.5 inch of deficit of rain. The fire today is expected to creep and smolder. Starting Saturday, fire behavior might increase slightly from creeping and smoldering to occasional surface fires.  

AREA/ROAD CLOSURES: Highway 1 is open. The following roads and trails are closed: THE AREA AND ALL ROADS AND TRAILS NORTH OF Highway 1 starting at intersection of Forest Road (FR) 1468 and Highway 1 east to the intersection of the Wanless Road (FR 172) and Highway 1. The Wanless Road/FR 172 is closed as are all areas north of the Wanless Road/FR 172 to the Lake County Road 7/Cramer Road/Windy Lake Road (Cramer Road). The Cramer Road and all areas north of the Cramer Road are closed from the intersection of Hoist Road and Cramer Road. The Four Mile Grade is closed from the intersection of Cramer Road in Lake County to the Sawbill Road in Cook County; this includes Cook County Road 3.

SAFETY: Public and firefighter safety is the highest priority. Falling trees are a safety concern. The Isabella area has an increase in traffic due to fire crew activity. Be alert, reduce your speed, and be aware of additional vehicles on the roads.  

DETECTED: August 18, 2011                        CAUSE: Lightning                     ACREAGE: 93,669

LOCATION: The fire is approximately east of Ely 14 miles.

RESOURCES: There are 858 incident personnel. There are three Type 1 helicopters, and two Type 3 helicopter. Nine hotshot (Type 1) crews, twelve Type 2 crews, and three camp crews are on the incident. There are also nineteen engines, seven dozers, and two water tenders assigned to the incident.

Autumn Arriving in the Boundary Waters


Autumn is on its way. Several nights ago, our nights saw freezing temperatures, as low as 22 degrees. "Good sleeping weather" as Minnesotans call it. Good thing for down coats and hot water bottles! Every morning we watched the mist gently swirl on the lake's surface as it started to lose some of its heat to the colder air.


On a hike during the day, we experienced a little hail blow over. Everything looked a little more wintry shortly afterwards.


The leaves are starting to change, but are not at peak yet. Some much needed rain the last couple days is dampening the Pagami Creek fire, and will cause the leaf color to last a bit longer.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pagami Creek Fire USFS Update - Sept. 21

TODAY’S MESSAGE: The Pagami Creek Fire is now 30% contained. The size decreased to 93,669 acres because of more accurate GPS mapping on the northwest side. Of the total acreage, 9,274 acres are outside the wilderness. Between two tenths to one half of an inch of rain fell on the fire yesterday. Eleven canoes were airlifted into Insula Lake on the eastern side of the fire for incoming crews. The spike camp near Isabella is set up and fully operational for about 300 personnel. 

ACTIVITIES TODAY:
·         Conduct water-safety training for four new crews.
·         Assess the northeast side: scout line, identify camp locations, establish spike camp for crew, and evaluate the perimeter for possible use of fire line explosives to build fire line over rock with shallow soils. 
·         Continue to patrol and pull hose from containment lines.
·         Continue to construct fire line, scout for hotspots, and mop up.

WEATHER AND FIRE BEHAVIOR: Showers will continue today. Temps will be in the mid to high 40s. Sustained NW winds will be in the teens with gusts in the mid 20s. Precipitation will taper to a drizzle by late Wednesday. An additional two tenths of an inch of rain is expected Wednesday. A drying and warming trend will start Thursday and extend into the weekend. The fire today is expected to continue to creep and smolder. 

ROAD CLOSURES AND BLOCKS: Highway 1 is open. Closed roads are roads north of Highway 1 from Forest Road (FR) 1468 east to Isabella; Wanless Road (FR 172) east to Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7; Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7 north to FR 354; FR 354 north to BWCAW boundary at Kawishiwi Lake; and the Wanless Road (FR172). In Lake County, road blocks are at the intersections of Highway 1 and the Tomahawk Trail; Highway 1 and Deep Lake Road; Highway 1 and Bandana Road; Highway 1 and Mitawan Lake Road; Highway 1 and Arrowhead Road; Highway 1 and Wanless Road; Wanless Road and Manitou Junction; Wanless Road and Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7; Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7 and Hoist Creek Road; and Highway 1 and East Grade Road. In Cook County, a road block is at the intersection of Sawbill Trail and Four-Mile Grade. Four-Mile Grade is closed between FR 339 and FR 340.

SAFETY: Public and firefighter safety is the highest priority. Falling trees are a safety concern. There has been one injury to date.

DETECTED: August 18, 2011                        CAUSE: Lightning                     ACREAGE: 93,669

LOCATION: The fire started at Township 63 N, Range 9 W, approximately 14 miles east of Ely (within the BWCAW) in the Pagami Creek area between the South Kawishiwi River, Clearwater Lake, and Lake One. The fire perimeter from the north is Lake One, Two, Four, and Lake Insula. The eastern perimeter is the southern edge of Lake Polly and east of Kawasachong Lake, west of Perent Lake, and northwest of Silver Island Lake. The southern perimeter crosses the intersection of Island River Road and Lake Twenty-Nine Road, Twenty-Nine Lake, and the Isabella River to Bog Lake.

RESOURCES: There are 781 incident personnel, and three crews will be arriving today. There are three Type 1 helicopters, and two Type 3 helicopter. Six hotshot (Type 1) crews, twelve Type 2 crews, and two camp crews are on the incident. There are also twenty-three engines, seven dozers, and three water tenders assigned to the incident.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pagami Creek Fire USFS Update - Sept. 20

TODAY’S MESSAGE: The Pagami Creek Fire is now 23% contained. The size remains unchanged at 93,898 acres. Although the fire area received a half inch of rain on Sunday, when fire-behavior specialists flew over the fire on Monday afternoon they observed some trees torching, which is an indication that the fuels are still quite dry. However, today and Wednesday will be extremely wet, which will temper fire activity, increase fuel moisture, and begin to reduce the fire-danger indices. The fire is expected to smolder and creep today. Crews on Division B made good progress yesterday, constructing 2 miles of fire line eastward. Crews on Division C established and constructed 1.5 miles of line. Two resource advisers got to Division D and are scouting and planning in advance of crews being assigned to the division. Crews on the southern part of the fire also made good progress mopping up and securing line. Helicopters delivered 10,000 pounds of cargo to fire crews. Type 1 helicopters dropped 86 buckets on the fire area.
 
ACTIVITIES TODAY:
 
·         Continue to assess Division D: scout line, identify camp locations, and establish spike camp for crew.
 
·         Continue to patrol and pull hose from the containment line.
 
·         Continue to expand fire line, scout for hotspots, and mop up.
 
WEATHER:  Scattered showers and a few thunderstorms are expected to move into the area this morning and continue throughout the day, dropping a quarter inch of rain. Highs will be in the low 60s. Winds will be from the south to southeast at 10–15 mph with gusts around 20 mph. Another quarter inch of rain is expected Wednesday. A drying trend will start Thursday and extend into the weekend.
 
BOUNDARY WATERS CANOE AREA WILDERNESS (BWCAW): The Superior National Forest has increased the number of entry points and portages that are open to the public. Detailed information can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/superior/home or  www.inciweb.org/incident/2534 or by calling 218-365-7600.
 
ROAD CLOSURES AND BLOCKS: Highway 1 is still open. Closed roads include all roads north of Highway 1 from Forest Road (FR) 1468 east to Isabella; Wanless Road (FR 172) east to Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7; Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7 north to FR 354; FR 354 north to BWCAW boundary at Kawishiwi Lake; and the Wanless Road (FR172).  Additional closures may occur. 
 
In Lake County, road blocks are at the intersections of Highway 1 and the Tomahawk Trail; Highway 1 and Deep Lake Road; Highway 1 and Bandana Road; Highway 1 and Mitawan Lake Road; Highway 1 and Arrowhead Road; Highway 1 and Wanless Road; Wanless Road and Manitou Junction; Wanless Road and Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7; Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7 and Hoist Creek Road; and Highway 1 and East Grade Road. 
 
In Cook County, a road block is at the intersection of Sawbill Trail and Four-Mile Grade. Four-Mile Grade is closed between FR 339 and FR 340.
 
SAFETY: Public and firefighter safety is the highest priority. Falling trees are a safety concern; a firefighter was taken to the hospital yesterday with a leg injury. Forest-wide fire restrictions remain in effect, and details can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/superior/home orwww.inciweb.org/incident/2534. Information on smoke conditions can be found on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency website:www.pca.state.mn.us.
 
DATE OF DETECTION: August 18, 2011           
 
CAUSE: Lightning               
 
CURRENT SIZE: 93,898 acres
 
LOCATION: The fire started at Township 63 N, Range 9 W, approximately 14 miles east of Ely (within the BWCAW) in the Pagami Creek area between the South Kawishiwi River, Clearwater Lake, and Lake One. The fire perimeter from the north is Lake One, Two, Four, and Lake Insula. The eastern perimeter is the southern edge of Lake Polly and east of Kawasachong Lake, west of Perent Lake, and northwestern of Silver Island Lake. The southern perimeter crosses the intersection of Island River Road and Lake Twenty-Nine Road, Twenty-Nine Lake, and the Isabella River to Bog Lake.
 
RESOURCES: There are 738 incident personnel. There are four Type 1 helicopters, one Type 2 helicopters, and two Type 3 helicopter. Five hotshot (Type 1) crews, twelve Type 2 crews, and two camp crews are on the incident. There are also seventeen engines, six dozers, and two water tenders assigned to the incident.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pagami Creek Fire USFS Update - Sept. 19


TODAY’S MESSAGE: The Pagami Creek fire is now 19% contained. Fire behavior was minimal Sunday, largely due to the one-third inch of rain that fell across the fire area, and the size remained the same at 93,898 acres. Today, fire-behavior specialists expect minimal to no fire spread with a little creeping and smoldering over the entire fire area. With the combination of precipitation, bucket drops, and cooler temperatures, five or six days of drying are needed before fire activity would increase.

Crews on Division B made good progress on the northern perimeter and extended line a half mile eastward. Crews from Divisions A and Z have been constructing line toward each other, and yesterday they met, creating a longer containment line on the northwest part of the fire. Crews on the southern part of the fire constructed 3,000 feet of dozer line and laid 1.5 miles of hose. Public-safety crews continue to assist campers out of the wilderness lakes and portages that are closed. Full-time residents in the mandatory evacuation area east of Isabella are now allowed access to their homes and property. The evacuation area remains closed to seasonal residents and the public. Closed roads are still staffed 24 hours a day by law enforcement. The fire remains under unified command with Cook and Lake Counties.

ACTIVITIES TODAY:
·         Host a community meeting at the Isabella Community Center at 11:00 a.m.
·         Assess Division D: scout line and identify camp location, sling sites, and evacuation plan.
·         Continue to monitor the 19% containment line, mop up, construct direct fire line, and backhaul hose and equipment from Division A (point-of-origin area).
·         Continue to prepare the spike camp near Isabella for crews to be based there closer to the southern edge of the fire.

WEATHER:
The weather will be warm and mostly sunny today, with a high of 69–71 degrees. The relative humidity is 90% this morning but will drop to 28–33% this afternoon. Winds, 10–14 mph, will be from the west and northwest and gusts will be around 18 mph. Tuesday will be cool and wet with a low around 40 degrees and showers and isolated thunderstorms. Morning winds will be from the south and southeast (4–7 mph) and will switch to the southwest in the afternoon (10–14 mph, gusts 20 mph). Over Tuesday and Wednesday, a minimum of a half inch of rain should fall.  Drier and gradually warming temperatures are expected Thursday.

BOUNDARY WATERS CANOE AREA WILDERNESS (BWCAW): The following entry points are OPEN: entry points along the Echo Trail (including Mudro); #25 Moose Lake (travel allowed only up the chain and to the west); #26 Wood Lake; #24 Fall Lake; the entire Trout Lake section (separate section south of the Echo Trail); #42 Brule ONLY; #54A Seagull ONLY; #55A Saganaga ONLY; and the small separate section northeast of the Gunflint Trail from #58 South Lake on the west to #70 North Fowl on the east. All other entry points in the BWCAW are closed.

ROAD CLOSURES: Highway 1 is still open. Closed roads include all roads north of Highway 1 from Forest Road (FR) 1468 east to Isabella; Wanless Road (FR 172) east to Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7; Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7 north to FR 354; FR 354 north to BWCAW boundary at Kawishiwi Lake; and the Wanless Road (FR172). Additional closures may occur. 
ROAD BLOCKS:
In Lake County, road blocks are at the intersections of Highway 1 and the Tomahawk Trail; Highway 1 and Deep Lake Road; Highway 1 and Bandana Road; Highway 1 and Mitawan Lake Road; Highway 1 and Arrowhead Road; Highway 1 and Wanless Road; Wanless Road and Manitou Junction; Wanless Road and Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7; Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7 and Hoist Creek Road; and Highway 1 and East Grade Road.  In Cook County, a road block is at the intersection of Sawbill Trail and Four-Mile Grade. Four-Mile Grade is closed between FR 339 and FR 340.

SAFETY: Public and firefighter safety is the highest priority. No injuries, accidents, or swamped canoes have been reported. Forest-wide fire restrictions remain: building, maintaining, or using a fire or campfire, including charcoal fires, wood-burning camp stoves, and charcoal grills, is prohibited on all lands (federal, state, local government, and private) within the administrative boundaries of the Superior National Forest. Charcoal grills are allowed at private residences. Use of pressurized liquid gas stoves is allowed. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and incident personnel are monitoring smoke conditions. Visit the following website for more information: pca.state.mn.us

DATE OF DETECTION: August 18, 2011           

CAUSE: Lightning               

CURRENT SIZE: 93,898 acres

LOCATION: The fire started at Township 63 N, Range 9 W, approximately 14 miles east of Ely (within the BWCAW) in the Pagami Creek area between the South Kawishiwi River, Clearwater Lake, and Lake One. The fire perimeter from the north is Lake One, Two, Four, and Lake Insula. The eastern perimeter is the southern edge of Lake Polly and east of Kawasachong Lake, west of Perent Lake, and northwestern of Silver Island Lake. The southern perimeter crosses the intersection of Island River Road and Lake Twenty-Nine Road, Twenty-Nine Lake, and the Isabella River toBog Lake.

AGENCIES: Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Cook County Sheriff’s Office, and Superior National Forest

RESOURCES: There are 598 people assigned to the fire, which includes five Type 1 crews (hotshot crews) and eight Type 2 crews. There are four Type 1 helicopters, three Type 2 helicopters, one Type 3 helicopter, thirteen engines, six dozers, and 1 water tender assigned to the incident. There are 76 canoes. On Saturday, September 17th, air support dropped over 650,000 gallons of water on the fire.

Photos of Basswood Lodge on Basswood Lake


One of our canoe trip outfitting guests shared some historic photos from the old Basswood Lodge on Basswood Lake near Ely, MN.  The photos are from the collection of her late father, Harold Rosencrans, of Lebanon, Ohio.  Harold vacationed with his family on Basswood Lake.  The photos may be from the 50s or 60s.  Above is a color postcard of Basswood Fishing Lodge, and the two images below appear to be photographs.
Basswood Lodge was known in part for exceptional log craftsmanship.  After the federal government bought out all of these old resorts, some of the log cabins were disassembled, moved, and reassembled outside of the BWCA.  One example is the Ely Chamber of Commerce - which was formerly one of the log cabins at Basswood Lodge.
Some of the locations of old lodges are now sites of BWCA campsites, and an excellent campsite is now near the location of this historic resort.  But tent campers today won't see the human-made structures shown in these photos.  The lodge, spectacular dock system and bridge shown in these photographs live on only in photographs and memories.

If you have historic Boundary Waters photos and an interest in sharing them, please let us know and we're happy to post them with your stories on our blog. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pagami Creek Fire USFS Update - Sept. 18


TODAY’S MESSAGE: The fire is now 11% contained. The size increased slightly on Saturday from 93,472 acres to 93,898 acres. Crews completed structure protection on 30 structures on the south side of the fire. Air resources were used to their maximum capacity yesterday. Four helicopters flew a total of 25 hours dropping water on the fire perimeter, especially on the southern portion. Scoopers (CL-215s) also dropped a lot of water on the fire yesterday, focusing on the northern and eastern perimeter. Ground crews were equally busy, fighting the fire directly by continuing to construct fire line with saws and dozers and to lay hose. Crews deployed over 5,600 feet of hose on the southern perimeter alone. Today, a logistics crew is setting up a spike camp near Isabella, which will provide hot meals, showers, toilets, and camping space to more than 250 firefighters, engines, and camp personnel. Today’s humidities over 40% and the expected moisture will result in a creeping, smoldering fire across the entire fire area. The fire remains under unified command with Cook and Lake Counties.

ACTIVITIES TODAY:
·         Host a community meeting at the Northern Tier Boy Scout Camp east of Ely off the Fernberg Trail (14798 Moose Lake Road) at 2:00 p.m.
·         Host a community meeting at the Isabella Community Center at 11:00 a.m.
·         Continue to monitor the 11% containment line.
·         Continue to patrol and monitor for spots; construct direct line with hand tools, saws, and dozers; and mop up.

WEATHER: Winds early today will come from the south and southeast at 8–10 mph. By late morning the winds will come from the south and increase to 10–14 mph and gust at 18–23 mph. Scattered showers are expected throughout the day, providing a tenth of an inch or less of rain. Today’s high will be around 57 degrees and humidities will stay above 45% in the afternoon. The Haines Index is 3, which is very low. Over the next couple days, the winds will be affecting the fire from different directions: Monday’s winds will come from the northwest and then the west (10–15 mph, gusts to 20 mph), and Tuesday’s winds will be from the southwest and then the northwest (10–15 mph, gusts to 20 mph).

BOUNDARY WATERS CANOE AREA WILDERNESS (BWCAW): The following entry points are OPEN: entry points along the Echo Trail (including Mudro); #25 Moose Lake (travel allowed only up the chain and to the west); #26 Wood Lake; #24 Fall Lake; the entire Trout Lake section (separate section south of the Echo Trail); #42 Brule ONLY; #54A Seagull ONLY; #55A Saganaga ONLY; and the small separate section northeast of the Gunflint Trail from #58 South Lake on the west to #70 North Fowl on the east. All other entry points in the BWCAW are closed.

ROAD CLOSURES: Highway 1 is still open. Closed roads include all roads north of Highway 1 from Forest Road (FR) 1468 east to Isabella; Wanless Road (FR 172) east to Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7; Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7 north to FR 354; FR 354 north to BWCAW boundary at Kawishiwi Lake; and the Wanless Road (FR172).

In Lake County, road blocks are at the intersections of Highway 1 and the Tomahawk Trail; Highway 1 and Deep Lake Road; Highway 1 and Bandana Road; Highway 1 and Mitawan Lake Road; Highway 1 and Arrowhead Road; Highway 1 and Wanless Road; Wanless Road and Manitou Junction; Wanless Road and Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7; Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7 and Hoist Creek Road; and Highway 1 and East Grade Road. 

In Cook County, a road block is at the intersection of Sawbill Trail and Four-Mile Grade (Cook County Road 3 north of that intersection is closed). Four-Mile Grade is closed between FR 339 and FR 340.

Additional closures may occur.

SAFETY: Public and firefighter safety is the highest priority. No injuries, accidents, or swamped canoes have been reported. Forest-wide fire restrictions remain: building, maintaining, or using a fire or campfire, including charcoal fires, wood-burning camp stoves, and charcoal grills, is prohibited on all lands (federal, state, local government, and private) within the administrative boundaries of the Superior National Forest. Charcoal grills are allowed at private residences. Use of pressurized liquid gas stoves is allowed. With increased traffic due to the fire and grouse-season, all drivers—the public and fire personnel—should be alert and drive safely. Because the area’s soils and the root-systems of trees are shallow, fire can burn and weaken the roots but leave trees standing. The stability of the burned standing trees is deceptive, and they can fall over easily in windy, gusty conditions. 

DATE OF DETECTION: August 18, 2011

CAUSE: Lightning

CURRENT SIZE: 93,898 acres

LOCATION: The fire started at Township 63 N, Range 9 W, approximately 14 miles east of Ely (within the BWCAW) in the Pagami Creek area between the South Kawishiwi River, Clearwater Lake, and Lake One. The fire perimeter from the north is Lake One, Lake Two, Lake Four, and Lake Insula. The perimeter on the east is the southern edge of Lake Polly and east of Kawasachong Lake, the northwest and southern shores of Square Lake, the western shore of Perent Lake, and the northwestern shore of Silver Island Lake, where the fire exited the BWCAW. The southern perimeter crosses the intersection of Island River Road and Lake Twenty-Nine Road, Twenty-Nine Lake, and the Isabella River to just inside the BWCAW at Bog Lake.

AGENCIES: Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Cook County Sheriff’s Office, and Superior National Forest

SMOKE CONDITIONS: The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and incident personnel are monitoring smoke conditions. Visit the following website for more information: pca.state.mn.us

RESOURCES: There are 565 people assigned to the fire, which includes five Type 1 crews (hotshot crews) and eight Type 2 crews. There are also three Type 2 helicopters, one Type 1 helicopter, eleven engines, four dozers, and 1 water tender assigned to the incident.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pagami Creek Fire USFS Update - Sept. 17


TODAY’S MESSAGE: The incident commander announced Friday evening that the fire is 8% contained. Also, fire managers were able to more accurately map the fire’s perimeter on Friday and decreased the acreage from an estimated 100,000 acres to a more precise 93,472 acres. Minnesota’s Governor Dayton, Senators Klobuchar and Franken, and Representative Cravaak toured the fire area on Friday morning. The fire remains under unified command with Cook and Lake Counties. Lake County Commissioners, the Northern Rockies Incident Management Team (IMT), and Aultman’s Type 2 IMT (based in Cook County) began a coordinated effort to develop an integrated evacuation and structure-protection plan for the southeastern portion of the fire area. An Ontario liaison arrived and will remain on the incident. Despite warmer temperatures, drier air, and slightly stronger winds on Friday, the fire primarily crept and smoldered along the ground. The fire will be more active today than it was yesterday, especially on the northern edge, because of increased southerly winds, stronger gusts, and very dry fuels. Most crews and air resources will be working on the northern and southern sides of the fire. As always, firefighter and public safety is the top priority.
ACTIVITIES TODAY:
·         Continue to monitor the 8% containment line.
·         Continue to construct and extend direct fire lines with saws, brush cutters, and dozers and lay fire hose on the fire’s perimeter.
·         Be on the alert for spot fires, and use fire crews to direct air resources to drop water where needed.
·         Host a community meeting at the Isabella Community Center at 11:00 a.m.

BWCAW CLOSURES: The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) closures remain the same. The following entry points are open: entry points along the Echo Trail (including Mudro); #25 Moose Lake (travel allowed only up the chain and to the west); #26 Wood Lake; #24 Fall Lake; the whole Trout Lake section (separate section south of the Echo Trail); #42 Brule ONLY; #54A Seagull ONLY; #55A Saganaga ONLY; and the small separate section northeast of the Gunflint Trail from #58 South Lake on the west to #70 North Fowl on the east.

ROAD CLOSURES: Highway 1 is still open.
Closed roads include
·         All roads north of Highway 1 from Forest Road (FR) 1468 east to Isabella
·         Wanless Road (FR 172) east to Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7
·         Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7 north to FR 354
·         FR 354 north to BWCAW boundary at Kawishiwi Lake
·         Wanless Road (FR172)


ROAD CLOSURES CONTINUED:

In Lake County, staffed road blocks will be at the intersections of
·         the Wanless and Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7
·         Highway 1 and the Wanless Road
·         Highway 1 and the Tomahawk Trail

In Cook County, a staffed road block is at the intersection of the Sawbill Trail and Four-Mile Grade so Cook County Road 3 north of that intersection is closed.

Additional closures may occur.

SAFETY: Public and firefighter safety is the highest priority. Forest-wide fire restrictions remain: building, maintaining, or using a fire or campfire, including charcoal fires, wood-burning camp stoves, and charcoal grills, is prohibited on all lands (federal, state, local government, and private) within the administrative boundaries of the Superior National Forest. Charcoal grills are allowed at private residences. Use of pressurized liquid gas stoves is allowed. With increased traffic due to the fire and grouse-season starting today, all drivers—the public and fire personnel—should be alert and drive safely.

DATE OF DETECTION: August 18, 2011

CAUSE: Lightning

CURRENT SIZE: 93,472 acres

LOCATION: The fire started at Township 63 N, Range 9 W, approximately 14 miles east of Ely (within the BWCAW) in the Pagami Creek area between the South Kawishiwi River, Clearwater Lake, and Lake One. The fire perimeter from the north is Lake One, Lake Two, Lake Four, and Lake Insula. The perimeter on the east is the southern edge of Lake Polly and east of Kawasachong Lake, the northwest and southern shores of Square Lake, the western shore of Perent Lake, and the northwestern shore of Silver Island Lake, where the fire exited the BWCAW. The southern perimeter crosses the intersection of Island River Road and Lake Twenty-Nine Road, Twenty-Nine Lake, and the Isabella River to just inside the BWCAW at Bog Lake.

AGENCIES: Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Cook County Sheriff’s Office, and Superior National Forest

SMOKE CONDITIONS: The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and incident personnel are monitoring smoke conditions. Visit the following website for more information: pca.state.mn.us

RESOURCES: There are 510 people assigned to the fire. Five Type 1 crews and eight Type 2 crews are on the incident. Seven helicopters, including four National Guard Black Hawks, are assigned to the incident. Eight fixed-wing aircraft are assigned, including three float planes, two air tankers, and three air-attack planes.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pagami Creek Fire USFS Update - Sept. 16


TODAY’S MESSAGE: Doug Turman’s Northern Rockies Type 1 National Incident Management Team assumed management of the Pagami Creek Fire yesterday. The fire is still under the unified command of the Lake and Cook County sheriff’s offices and the Superior National Forest. Moderated fire behavior continued yesterday with the cooler temperatures, higher humidities, and lighter winds. Operations personnel made significant progress on both the northern and southern perimeters. Firefighters attacked the northwestern corner and pushed east along the northern perimeter. On the western flank, a crew began constructing line starting at Clearwater Lake and working toward the northwest. Sprinkler systems were installed on two portages. The southern divisions mopped up a small spot fire south of Bog Lake. Outside the wilderness, bulldozers were used to clear line and engine crews supported hand crews. A large spike camp has been established near Isabella. Additional fire restrictions go into effect today (see below).

ACTIVITIES TODAY:
·         Continue to provide for the safety of the public and firefighters.
·         Extend hose lays further east along the northern perimeter.
·         Continue to construct line along the southern perimeter outside the wilderness before attacking the flanks within the wilderness.
·         Complete water-safety training and other orientation with newly arrived crews.
·         Host a community meeting at the Isabella Community Center at 11:00 a.m.
·         Staff a Joint Information Center from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Kawishiwi Ranger District Office in Ely.

BWCAW CLOSURES: The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) closures remain the same. The following entry points are open: entry points along the Echo Trail (including Mudro); #25 Moose Lake (travel allowed only up the chain and to the west); #26 Wood Lake; #24 Fall Lake; the whole Trout Lake section (separate section south of the Echo Trail); #42 Brule ONLY; #54A Seagull ONLY; #55A Saganaga ONLY; and the small separate section northeast of the Gunflint Trail from #58 South Lake on the west to #70 North Fowl on the east.

ROAD CLOSURES: Road closures remain the same. Highway 1 is still open. Closed roads include
·         All roads north of Highway 1 from Forest Road (FR) 1468 east to Isabella
·         Wanless Road (FR 172) east to Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7
·         Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7 north to FR 354
·         FR 354 north to BWCAW boundary at Kawishiwi Lake
·         Wanless Road (FR172)

Staffed road blocks within Lake County will be at
·         intersection of Wanless and Cramer Road/Lake County Road 7
·         Highway 1 and Wanless Road
·         Highway 1 and Tomahawk Trail
The road block within Cook County will be Highway 3 just west of Sawbill Road. Additional closures may occur.

SAFETY: As of today, September 16, building, maintaining, or using a fire or campfire, including charcoal fires, wood-burning campstoves, and charcoal grills, is prohibited anywhere on national forest lands within the Superior National Forest, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Use of pressurized liquid gas stoves is allowed.

DATE OF DETECTION: August 18, 2011

CAUSE: Lightning

CURRENT SIZE: 100,000 acres

LOCATION: The fire started at Township 63 N, Range 9 W, approximately 14 miles east of Ely (within the BWCAW) in the Pagami Creek area between the South Kawishiwi River, Clearwater Lake, and Lake One. The fire perimeter from the north is Lake One, Lake Two, Lake Four, and Lake Insula. The perimeter on the east is the southern edge of Lake Polly and east of Kawasachong Lake, the northwest and southern shores of Square Lake, the western shore of Perent Lake, and the northwestern shore of Silver Island Lake, where the fire exited the BWCAW. The southern perimeter crosses the intersection of Island River Road and Lake Twenty-Nine Road, Twenty-Nine Lake, and the Isabella River to just inside the BWCAW at Bog Lake.

AGENCIES: Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Cook County Sheriff’s Office, and Superior National Forest

SMOKE CONDITIONS: Smoke may be heavy and widespread depending on wind direction and speed.

RESOURCES: One hundred firefighters from Arizona were added yesterday, bringing personnel up to 436. Five Type 1 crews and eight Type 2 crews are on the incident. Seven helicopters, including four National Guard Black Hawks, are assigned to the incident. Eight fixed-wing aircraft are assigned, including three float planes, two air tankers, and three air-attack planes.

BWCA Fire Ban Effective Now

We just received a call from the Forest Service stating that a total fire ban is now in effect for the entire Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  No campfires are allowed in the Boundary Waters until further notice. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pagami Creek Fire Map of Sept. 13 at 7PM

At about 100,000 acres, the Pagami Fire is the third largest wildfire in Minnesota history.  This map shows the fire extending east to Parent and Kawishiwi Lakes. 

Pagami Creek Fire Update for Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011


Contact: Fire Information 218-365-3177
TODAY'S MESSAGE: The Pagami Creek Fire continues under Unified Command of Lake County, MNICS, and the Superior National Forest. Acreage increased yesterday due in large part to improved mapping of the fire perimeter as the smoke cleared. The fire did push farther south, exiting the southern Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) boundary about one mile in a wavering line. Despite gusting winds, there was limited fire growth due to lower temperatures and higher humidity. Crews were very effective in continuing to hold the northwest corner of the fire. Areas around the fire were assessed and additional BWCAW and road closures were enacted. The National Guard is sending four Blackhawk helicopters and Manitoba is sending two water bombers and an air attack plane. Approximately 170 people attended a community meeting in Ely yesterday evening. About 40 people attended a meeting in Grand Marais yesterday evening.
ACTIVITIES TODAY:
Containment efforts have begun with heavy equipment outside the wilderness along the southern perimeter. Crews will be patrolling lines and monitoring for any hot spots.
Airplanes and helicopters are being used to drop water to slow the spread of the fire.
Community Meetings will be held at the Poplar Lake Fire Hall on the Gunflint Trail at 11:00 a.m. and at the Isabella Community Center at 11:00 a.m., today, September 14, 2011.
BWCAW CLOSURES: All entry points are closed except for: entry points along the Echo Trail (including Mudro); #25 Moose Lake (travel allowed only up the chain and to the west); #26 Wood Lake; #24 Fall Lake; the whole Trout Lake section (separate section south of the Echo Trail); #42 Brule ONLY; #54A Seagull ONLY; #55A Saganaga ONLY; and the Vento section (small separate section northeast of the Gunflint Trail).
ROAD CLOSURES: All roads north of the following route are closed: Highway 1 from Forest Road (FR) 1468 east to Isabella; Wanless Road (FR 172) east to Cramer/Lake County Road 7; Cramer/Lake County Road 7 north to FR 354; FR 354 north to BWCAW boundary at Kawishiwi Lake. Highway 1 is still open. The Wanless Road is closed. Road blocks staffed within Lake County will be at the intersections of Wanless and Cramer, Highway 1 and Wanless, Hwy 1 and Tomahawk Trail. Road blocks within Cook County will be Hwy 3 just west of Sawbill Road. Additional closures may occur.
SAFETY: The Superior National Forest and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are enacting additional fire restrictions for areas outside the BWCAW. Go to thehttp://www.inciweb.org/, MNICS.org and the Superior National Forest websites for further information.
DATE OF DETECTION: August 18, 2011
CAUSE: Lightning
CURRENT SIZE: 100,000 acres
LOCATION: Township 63 N, Range 9 W, approximately 14 miles east of Ely (within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness) in the Pagami Creek area between the South Kawishiwi River, Clearwater Lake, and Lake One.
AGENCY: Superior National Forest, Kawishiwi Ranger District
SMOKE CONDITIONS: Smoke may be heavy and wide-spread depending on wind direction.
RESOURCES: 230 personnel are assigned to the fire.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
Phone (218) 365-3177