Crews rescue injured campers pinned by downed trees in BWCA


A pair of dramatic rescues followed the windstorm that swept through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness this week, leaving some campers pinned under fallen trees for hours.

Northland's News Center reports at least five people were injured at a campsite on Loon Lake.

Mark Anderson, the owner of Canoe Outfitters, tells the station there were four tents of campers on the site when 30 trees fell from all directions during the storm that struck northern Minnesota Monday night and Tuesday morning.

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WDIO reports the injured campers on Loon Lake included a 53-year-old Minneapolis woman, a 62-year-old woman from St. Cloud, and a woman from Northfield, Vermont, who is 60. A St. Louis County Rescue Squad told the station two of the women had trees laying on them for hours, while others in the party suffered less severe injuries.

In a separate incident about 10 miles away on Lac La Croix the owner of Zup's Resort, Mark Zupancich, helped a rescue crew reach a party of 17 people from Louisiana.

Zupancich told WCCO Radio about the campsite he reached Tuesday morning: “It looked like a bomb hit it. There was probably 20 to 30 trees down, over equipment. It was a mess.”

The Duluth News Tribune reports the Lake County Sheriff's office was also called to help injured campers at a site between Insula Lake and Hudson Lake.

The storms caused widespread damage as they swept across the northern half of Minnesota.

The Bemidji Pioneer reports the National Weather Service clocked wind gusts of up to 80 mph at Crookston. The 2.74 inches of rain that fell on Grand Forks, N.D., caused street flooding there. The Pioneer reports Baudette recorded 4 inches of rain.

Farther south the rainfall amounts were smaller but the winds were damaging. The Weather Service tells the Brainerd Dispatch there were 50-to-70 mph gusts across the lakes area. The Dispatch says part of the town of Staples was temporarily evacuated after the wind took the roof off an auto dealership, causing a gas leak.

Utility companies were still working late Tuesday on restoring electricity to customers who lost power in the storm. A spokeswoman for Minnesota Power told the Pioneer the line of storms was unusual because it swept through the company's entire service area, which spreads over 26,000 square miles from International Falls to Sandstone.

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