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Wildfire torches 1,000 acres as critical fire weather continues

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There's potential for the wildfire near Ely to spread Sunday.

The fire that's burning in the boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is an estimated 1,008 acres in size and is 30 percent contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service's update Sunday morning.

But with a red flag warning Sunday, officials say more trees could burn. Fire behavior analysts say there's "potential for significant fire activity" on Sunday, thanks to the dry, hot and windy weather.

Officials say there's potential for "some quick fire spread" and smoke may be visible. Smoke doesn't mean the fire is getting bigger, though – "smoldering 'islands' of unburned fuel within the fire perimeter could burn more actively," the U.S. Forest Service says.

At around 1:50 p.m. Sunday, the Forest Service said people in Ely had been calling in to report smoke. Officials say the smoke is coming from within the perimeter of the wildfire.

There are 180 people working to fight the fire.

The fire hasn't threatened any buildings, but officials are planning for strong winds on Sunday. The U.S. Forest Service says residents on the western side of Burntside Lake should keep an eye on changing weather conditions.

Some areas of the Boundary Waters, including trails and campsites are closed due to the fire. Click here for a list of closures.

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The Foss Lake Fire started as a prescribed burn on Thursday, but it got out of control, the update says. The Duluth News Tribune reports the burn was done to improve wildlife habitat, forest regeneration and to remove fuel for future wildfires.

Currently, there are five prescribed burns and one wildfire in Minnesota, according to the U.S. Forest Service's website. So far this year, 1,144 fires have been reported in the state, and have burned 9,167 acres, the Minnesota Incident Command System says.

To date, a total of 1,144 fires have been reported for 9,167 Minnesota acres burned.

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Officials Saturday were still fighting two small fires by air and ground in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, as well as a 500-acre blaze burning just across the Canadian border. Canadian crews are attacking a "very active" fire known as Fort Frances No. 59, the Duluth News Tribune reports.