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.

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.

·         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.

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. 
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.

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