Skip to main content

Lightning strike sparks another fire in Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Crews used a helicopter to help locate hotspots Thursday morning.
The Hassel Fire.

The Hassel Fire.

For the second time in recent weeks, a lightning strike has caused a wildfire in Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (NWCAW).

Authorities first detected the wildfire on June 4 just southwest of Hassel Lake (which is about 10 miles northeast of Tower, Minnesota) in the BWCAW. While the fire is small, its location " is away from any lakes or portages north of Boulder Lake so access on the ground is difficult," the Superior National Forest said in an update.

There are currently 27 personnel on the scene, according to the Incident Information System, with a food resupply on the way for those responders camping in the wilderness.

Since then, firefighters have worked to map and control the Hassel Fire, which is about 50% contained as of Thursday morning, according to Superior National Forest. It's estimated to be about 21 acres in size, and there are a handful of lake, campsite and portage closures still in effect.

But  they've made "good progress" in terms of keeping the fire small and contained, Tim Engrav, public information officer with the Superior National Forest, told Bring Me The News. Crews have pumps and water hose lines around most of the fire, and on Thursday morning they used an infrared helicopter to locate hotspots that need to be addressed.

While temperatures have been quite high, an increase in humidity and a few bursts of rain have helped keep a lid on the blaze, Engrav said. 

In mid-May, crews battled the significantly larger Bezhik Wildifre a bit to the Hassel Fire's north. That one, also believed to be caused by a lightning strike, grew to more than 900 acres, moving through the forest and destroying some private property, including a cabin.

Engrav said the safety of people and property is always a concern, and something they're monitoring with the Hassel Fire as well. 

As for damage to the BWCAW itself, Engrav said the landscape's signature boreal forest "is a fire-dependent ecosystem, historically," with fires moving through the area pre-European settlement. (Though research suggests fires are occurring more frequently in these forests, which is a cause for concern.)

"If fire stays in the understory, and doesn't reach up into the crowns of the trees, it actually can have some ecological benefit," he said, noting the red and white pine stands "can handle ground fire moving through, and it actually helps them."

It's when the flames reach the high tops of the canopy that the fire can become quite damaging, burning through ecologically valuable tree species and spreading more rapidly.

The plan for the Hassel Fire now is to begin attacking its edges, moving inward toward the interior to extinguish pockets of heat, Engrav said. And while conditions can always change, "things are looking good" for keeping the blaze contained. 

Next Up

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 7.45.44 PM

Tyre Nichols: Initial police version of events bear similarities to George Floyd killing

Memphis PD said Nichols complained of 'shortness of breath' following 'confrontations' with police, who in reality violently beat him.

George Floyd, protest

Twin Cities authorities preparing for community reaction to Tyre Nichols video

The ATF division in St. Paul sent out an alert out of "an abundance of caution."

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 2.12.05 PM

Changes at K102's Chris Carr & Company, with Sam Sansevere joining as co-host

She is the daughter of former KQRS morning show personality Bob Sansevere.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 1.16.21 PM

Minneapolis' Royal Foundry Craft Spirits announces closure

The distillery set out to infuse the Minneapolis craft cocktail scene with British flavor.

ShutterflyGoogle

Shutterfly to cut almost 100 jobs at Shakopee facility

The layoffs are expected to impact multiple positions within the company.

millcitymuseum_hr1

Mill City Museum in the running to be named best history museum in the U.S.

The museum offers scenic views of the Mississippi River.

HolmgrenMugRamseyCo

Man charged with attempted murder of White Bear Lake police officer

Daniel Holmgren Jr., 33, was being served an arrest warrant at the time of the incident.

image

Gallery: 1,000-acre Wisconsin resort listed for nearly $4.3M

The lush landscape features a creek and private lake.

school bus

Alert after Woodbury students approached by strangers asking if they want candy

Valley Crossing Elementary School urged parents to go over safety information with their children in response to the incident.

basketball unsplash stock

North St. Paul basketball cancels Eden Prairie game after opposing coach's reinstatement

Head Coach Cornelius Gilleylen said he let his players decide amongst themselves.

Related

Facebook - Bezhik Fire May 18 - Tony Harding_USDA Forest Service

Bezhik Fire destroys 4 structures, including a cabin

Responders say it is about 30% contained at this point.

Facebook Bezhik Fire crop

Wildfire begins pushing out of Boundary Waters, toward private property

The fire is estimated to be more than 900 acres in size.

Flickr - Superior National Forest Boundary Waters

Forest Service closes off more of BWCA due to nearby wildfires

Officials are worried the Canadian fires could spread to the U.S.

Flickr - campfire

No campfires allowed in BWCAW or Superior National Forest

The campfire ban applies to all campsites in the forest, including those in the BWCAW.

greenwood fire

Portion of Boundary Waters reopens, other MN fire closures remain

Rain and cooler temperatures have helped crews battle wildfires in northern Minnesota.

Flickr - Superior National Forest Boundary Waters

White House begins process to ban new mining near BWCAW

The stated goal is to protect the "unique natural wonder" of the BWCAW.

MNICS - John Ek Fire - Aug 20

BWCAW closure extended into September amid wildfire danger

Existing fires grew and more fires have popped up.

boundary waters

Parts of Boundary Waters closed near border due to wildfire threats

The closures will begin Saturday and last for at least seven days or until the situation is resolved.