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.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Foss Lake Fire May 24 Update

Foss Lake Fire AM Update
Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 9:00 a.m.
MNICS Team C, Brian Pisarek, Incident Commander
 Fire Information

Web address: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4740/#               Email: FossLakeFireInfo@gmail.com

Phone: 218-365-2216 (new number)    Location: US Forest Service, 1393 Hwy 169, Ely, open 8 am–6 pm

Size: 1015 acres                         Containment: 55 percent   Fire Start Date: May 19, 2016
Resources: 6 crews, 2 CCMI camp crews, 2 helicopters, 4 engines, 1 water tender, 217 total personnel

Starting today, fire updates will be released once a day in the morning.

Current Situation: Another day of strong winds tested the fireline yesterday, but the lines held and the fire did not grow. The progress firefighters have made allowed fire managers to consider over half of the fire contained. The hottest area of the fire is on the northwest side between Crab and Clark Lakes and south of Clark Lake. Helicopters were not needed yesterday for water drops. They provided support by hauling gear and supplies to and from the fire area. They will be available today for logistical support and water drops if needed. Ground crews will continue working to extend the containment line today by laying hose on already cut line and mopping up hot spots. Three crews continue to camp in the wilderness: two on Crab Lake and one on Clark Lake. The other crews hike to and from the fire every day. Firefighters have installed five to six miles of firehose and around the perimeter.

The Lake Vermilion Fire Brigade, Morse/Fall Lake Fire Department, and St. Louis County Sheriff’s Rescue Squad were demobilized from the incident yesterday. MNICS Team C appreciates the local expertise, structure protection, and equipment they provided to the firefighting efforts.
Weather and Fire Behavior: A quarter-inch of rain fell on the fire area last night, which is not enough to extinguish fire but is enough to significantly suppress and retard fire spread and new starts. The moisture will increase the effectiveness of firefighters’ suppression and mop-up efforts on the fireline today. Winds will be light and variable today, reaching 5–9 mph this afternoon. The temperature will be in the high 70s, and the relative humidity will hover around 35 percent. Fire behavior will likely be minimal today.

Closures: Crab Lake entry point #4 is the only BWCAW entry point that is closed. The following BWCAW portages and lakes/rivers, including campsites, are closed:
·         portage from Burntside Lake to Crab Lake (entry point #4)
·         portage from Cummings Lake to Korb Lake; portage from Cummings Lake to Korb River
·         lakes and associated portages: Crab, Boulder, Phantom, Battle, Sprite, Meat, Clark, Glimmer, Hassle, Saca, Little Crab, Korb, Maxine, Barefoot, Little Jig, Silaca, Coxey Pond, Lunetta, Schlamn, Soroll, Glenmore, Western, Blick, Chad, Dugout, and Pine.
·         Pine Creek east of Trout Lake
·         portage from Trout Lake to Pine Lake
Closure signs are posted at normal access points to delineate the closure area. The closure order and map are located at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/4740/.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Foss Lake Fire May 22 Update

Foss Lake Fire AM Update

Sunday, May 22, 2016, 10:00 a.m.

MNICS Team C, Brian Pisarek, Incident Commander
Web address: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4740/# Email: FossLakeFireInfo@gmail.com
Phone: 218-208-4544 Location: US Forest Service office, 1393 Hwy 169, Ely, open 8 a.m.–8 p.m.

Size: 1008 acres
Containment: 30 percent
Fire Start Date: May 19, 2016
Resources: 6 crews, 2 helicopters, 2 engines, 1 water tender, 180 total personnel

Current Situation: There was little growth on the fire yesterday. Accurate mapping data from handheld and aircraft GPS units resulted in the large increase in acreage. Along the east side of the fire, crews installed fire hose along a quarter mile of saw line. On the west side, they continued constructing saw line northward, nearing Clark Lake. Aircraft assisted ground crews with water drops. Two crews camped overnight on Clark and Crab Lakes, allowing them early access to the fireline this morning. A third crew will camp on Crab Lake tonight. Today, on both the east and west sides of the fire, firefighters expect to connect their saw lines as they work toward each other from the north and south. Four engines will be on the Wolf Lake and North Arm Roads today, prepared to respond to new fire starts that could occur. Four Forest Service wilderness rangers are on Crab and Cummings Lakes to ensure public safety for those who might be unaware of the closures.
They also continue to work with firefighters who are camping by helping them with wilderness and camping protocols. Firefighters from the Lake Vermilion Fire Brigade and Morse/Fall Lake Fire Department, with their two fire boats, continue to assist the firefighting efforts and Burntside Lake residents through their presence on the lake. Members of the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Rescue squad continue to make contact, both by boat and road, with property owners on the west end of Burntside Lake.

Critical fire-weather conditions across northeast Minnesota prompted the National Weather Service to issue a red flag warning today—for gusty winds and very dry conditions—in effect from noon to 7 p.m. The statewide planning/preparedness level was raised yesterday to 5, the highest level.
Weather and Fire Behavior: Weather today will be dominated by high winds this afternoon, again from the south, gusting to 25 mph. Sustained winds will be 10–15 mph. Whitecaps are expected to remain on lakes after 10 p.m. as winds will continue overnight. Fire-behavior analysts say there is potential for a very active fire day (for example, single-tree or group-tree torching, short crown runs, and some rapid fire spread). Smoke might be visible to residents and visitors in surrounding communities. However, smoke does not necessarily mean the fire is growing larger: burning “islands” of unburned forest within the fire perimeter

Safety Message: The towns of Ely, Winton, Tower, or Soudan are not threatened. Residents on the west side of Burntside Lake should be aware of changing weather conditions today.

Closures: The Forest Service does not currently recommend BWCAW travel south of Big Moose, Big Rice, and Bootleg Lakes. Just one BWCAW entry point—Crab Lake entry point #4—is officially closed; all other entry points remain open. The following BWCAW portages and lakes/rivers, including campsites, are closed

 portage Burntside Lake to Crab Lake (entry point #4)
 portage from Cummings Lake to Korb Lake; portage from Cummings Lake to Korb River
 lakes and associated portages: Crab, Boulder, Phantom, Battle, Sprite, Meat, Clark,
Glimmer, Hassle, Saca, Little Crab, Korb, Maxine, Barefoot, Little Jig, Silaca, Coxey
Pond, Lunetta, Schlamn, Soroll, Glenmore, Western, Blick, Chad, Dugout, and Pine.
 Pine Creek east of Trout Lake
 portage from Trout Lake to Pine Lake

Closure signs are posted at normal access points to delineate the closure area. The
closure order and map are located at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/4740/.

RED FLAG WARNING

Foss Lake Fire Update for May 21, 2016

We received this last night:

Foss Lake Fire AM Update

Saturday, May 21, 2016, 11:00 a.m.
MNICS Team C, Brian Pisarek, Incident Commander
Web address: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4740/# Email: FossLakeFireInfo@gmail.com
Phone: 218-208-4544 Location: US Forest Service office, 1393 Hwy 169, Ely, open 8 a.m.–8 p.m.
Fire Start Date: May 19, 2016 Size: approximately 440 acres Containment: 10 percent
Current Situation: A Minnesota type 2 incident management team took command of the fire this
morning. Today they will work closely with the firefighters and managers who have been fighting the fire the past two days. Yesterday crews constructed fireline and installed hoselays along the east and west sides of the fire’s south end. A hotshot crew camped on Crab Lake last night and today will work on the north end of the fire. Eventually they will meet up with crews working from the south. Aircraft assisted ground crews by dropping water and retardant on the fire, particularly on the east side. Retardant has been dropped along the entire length of the east edge to limit fire growth toward Burntside Lake. Local firefighters from the Lake Vermilion Fire Brigade and Morse/Fall Lake Fire Department, using their two fire boats, have been conducting structure-protection assessments of residences on the west end of Burntside Lake and will continue that work today. There are 80 personnel and 5 aircraft on the fire.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for dry conditions for St. Louis County that is effect until 8 p.m. Saturday, May 21.

Weather and Fire Behavior: Today will be warm and dry again with the temperature reaching the high 70s and the relative humidity dropping as low as 16 percent. Light afternoon winds will be from the southwest with gusts not expected to top 10 mph. Fire-behavior analysts expect fire activity to be light today. However, strong winds are predicted for tomorrow, which could potentially increase fire behavior.
With the weather change in mind, crews will prioritize the east side of the fire for their fire-suppression efforts today. The earliest chance of rain over the fire area is Monday.

Safety Message: The towns of Ely, Winton, Tower, or Soudan are not threatened, nor are any
structures. Fire managers are planning for Sunday’s strong winds and red-flag-warning conditions.
Residents on the west side of Burntside Lake should be aware of changing weather conditions.

Location: The fire is located 10 miles west of Ely, MN, in St. Louis County, one mile west of the
southwestern edge of Burntside Lake, north of Foss Lake, and south of Crab Lake. The fire is burning
north within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

Closures: Currently, just one BWCAW entry point is closed: entry point #4 Crab Lake. All other entry points remain open. The following BWCAW portages and lakes, including campsites, are closed:
• Crab Lake BWCAW entry point and portage from Burntside Lake to Crab Lake
• Crab, Boulder, Phantom, Battle, Sprite, Meat, Clark, Glimmer, Hassle, Saca,
Little Crab, Korb, Maxine, Barefoot, Little Jig, Silaca, Coxey Pond, Lunetta,
Schlamn, Soroll, Glenmore, Western, Blick, Chad, Dugout, and Pine Lakes and
associated portage trails 
• Cummings Lake portage from Cummings Lake to Korb Lake
• Pine Creek East of Trout Lake
• Pine Lake portage from Trout Lake to Pine Lake

Closure signs will be posted at normal points of access to delineate the closure area. The
closure order and map are located at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4740/#.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Foss Lake Fire Update


USFS Update

Date Issued: May 20, 2016 at 8:00 p.m.                  Incident Commander Type III: Timo Rova

Fire Information:
Fire Start Date: May 19, 2016                    
Size: Approximately 440 acres            Containment: 10 percent

Location: This fire is located 10 miles west of Ely, MN, in St. Louis County, one mile west of the southwestern edge of Burntside Lake, north of Foss Lake, and south of Crab Lake. The fire is burning north within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

Description: Crews made good progress today, directly attacking the fire on its north, east, and west sides. Aircraft dropped fire retardant along the east side of the fire and water on the west side.

Background: The Foss Lake Fire began on May 19 as a prescribed fire to reduce surface and ladder fuels, to enhance wildlife habitat, and to encourage jack pine regeneration. Shortly after ignition, an unpredicted change in weather conditions brought higher winds, warmer temperatures, and lower relative humidity. A spot fire north of the control line escaped containment and the wind-driven fire spread to the north. Aircraft that were on standby responded quickly and, with the work of ground crews, were able to slow the fire’s eastward spread with water and retardant drops, protecting the west and north sides of Burntside Lake. The fire spread north to Crab Lake in the BWCAW. There was no fire growth to the south.

Message: There is no threat to the towns of Ely, Winton, Tower, or Soudan. No structures are threatened. Good fuel-reduction work completed over the last two years on Burntside Lake increases firefighters’ ability to manage the eastern edge.

Resources: 80 personnel and 8 aircraft. MNICS Type II Team under Incident Commander Brian Pisarek arrived today and will take command of the fire Saturday morning. The Lake Vermilion Fire Brigade and the Morse/Fall Lake Fire Department both have fire boats on Burntside Lake are conducting structure-protection assessments.

Weather: Saturday’s weather will be very similar to Friday’s. The temperature will be around 75 degrees. Relative humidity will be 20­–27 percent. South winds will be variable up to 7 mph. The earliest chance of rain over the fire area is Monday.

Closures: Currently, just one BWCAW entry point is closed: entry point #4 Crab Lake. All other entry points remain open. The closure area includes the following BWCAW portages and lakes, including campsites:
·         Crab Lake BWCAW entry point and portage from Burntside Lake to Crab Lake
·         Crab, Boulder, Phantom, Battle, Sprite, Meat, Clark, Glimmer, Hassle, Saca, Little Crab, Korb, Maxine, Barefoot, Little Jig, Silaca, Coxey Pond, Lunetta, Schlamn, Soroll, Glenmore, Western, Blick, Chad, Dugout, and Pine Lakes and associated portage trails
·         Cummings Lake portage from Cummings Lake to Korb Lake and Cummings Lake to Korb River
·         Pine Creek East of Trout Lake
·         Pine Lake portage from Trout Lake to Pine Lake
Closure signs will be used at normal points of access to delineate the closure area. The closure area map is located at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4740/# 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Foss Lake Fire Near Ely, MN - BWCAW Entry Point 4 (Crab Lake) Temporarily Closed

USFS Update - Foss Lake Fire
Date Issued: May 19, 2016 at 9:30 p.m.

Fire Information: 218-208-4544 and updates will be posted on inciweb@nwcg.gov

Location and Size: Township 63 N, Range 14 W, Section 26. This fire is located 6 miles from
Ely, MN in St. Louis County, one mile west of the southwestern edge of Burntside Lake, north of
Foss Lake, south of Crab Lake. It is burning north into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area
Wilderness (BWCAW). There is no estimate on the size at this time. An estimate will be made
tomorrow morning when smoke has dissipated. No control or containment estimates at this time.
Description: The fire has laid down for the night. With decreasing winds and higher relative
humidity aircraft made good progress checking the growth of the fire on both the east, west and
north sides. There was no growth to the south. Aircraft and ground crews will continue to work
tomorrow to reinforce today’s progress. Additional crews and resources will also be arriving to
assist with management of the fire.

Message: There is no threat to the towns of Ely, Winton, Tower or Soudan. No structures are
threatened. Good fuel reduction work completed in the last two years on Burntside increases fire
fighters ability to manage the eastern edge.

Resources: 8 aircraft worked the fire this afternoon with success. 40 crews are on scene.

Closures:

One BWCAW Entry Point: #4 Crab Lake is closed at this time.

All other BWCAW Entry Points remain open.

An area closure including BWCAW lakes west of Burntside Lake, south of Cummings Lake and east of Trout Lake is planned. A list of lakes included in the closure area and a map will be published
tomorrow on inciweb@nwcg.gov