REGIONAL – Hazy, smoky air quality in northern Minnesota has produced spectacular sunsets recently, but the unprecedented and significant conditions produced by numerous wildfires in the state …
REGIONAL – Hazy, smoky air quality in northern Minnesota has produced spectacular sunsets recently, but the unprecedented and significant conditions produced by numerous wildfires in the state and Canada remain a hazard
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issued an air quality alert late last week for all of Minnesota. The poor air quality warning extended through the weekend until mid-week. The affected area included all of Minnesota, and the tribal nations of Grand Portage, Fond du Lac, Upper Sioux, Leech Lake, Red Lake, Mille Lacs, and Prairie Island.
Numerous small wildfires continued to burn around the North Country this week. Officials with the Superior National Forest provided condition updates on Aug. 2.
Bunggee Fire was detected July 30 and is located south of Crooked Lake. It was approximately 1.5 acres in size. Access is difficult and all resources need to be helicoptered in. Eleven people were dispatched to the area last weekend.
Vivid Fire, located east of Snowbank Lake, was also reported on July 30 at approximately five acres in size. Firefighters made good progress in the last few days and fire officials called this fire 100 percent contained by Sunday afternoon.
The Agamok Fire was located a quarter-mile east of the Kekekabic Trail in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The fire was called controlled and final mapping had it at 1.25 acres. It is no longer staffed.
The Delta Lake Fire is 100 percent contained. The final size of the fire was reported at 62 acres. Crews completed hauling out hose and other equipment and have moved on to other fires. Aircraft will continue to monitor the area.
Bear Creek and Phantom Creek Fires: The 10-acre Bear Creek Fire is located north of Mud Creek Road. The 3.5-acre Phantom Creek Fire is north of Wolf Lake Road, on the east side of Lake Vermilion. Both fires are within the BWCA Wilderness. These fires are also 100 percent contained, according to SNF officials. Fire crews have moved to other priority fires.
Fourtown Lake Fire, first detected on July 25, is in the current closure area within the BWCAW by Fourtown Lake. Current size is 265 acres. This week, fire crews on the ground continued to strengthen the west and northwest firebreak by removing vegetation and putting down hose lines. Monitoring by air continues.
Sundial South Fire was detected on July 21 and still still shows smoke and is currently being monitored, though not staffed. This area is particularly inaccessible to fire crews due to the remote location and hazardous fuels.
The Slowfoot Fire remains at a tenth of an acre and will continue to be monitored, but not staffed.
Across the border in Canada, the Quetico Provincial Park continues to manage several fires burning north of the international border from the BWCAW. Three of these fires have potential to spread across the border into areas near Crooked and Iron lakes. The Superior National Forest continues to monitor and assess these fires daily.
Two helicopters are committed to the Superior National Forest to perform water drops as needed, according to officials. Two fixed-wing aircraft, called Fire Bosses, are available to help if needed. Officials requested the public not fly drones over the fire area as it is a safety hazard to aircraft and is prohibited. Air operations will stop if drones are detected in the area.
Closures remain in place on the Kawishiwi and LaCroix Ranger Districts adjacent to the Canadian border in BWCAW. For details, visit the Superior National Forest webpage at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/superior/alerts-notices.
The closures will remain in place until fires near the border are not a threat.