Minnesota fire crews head to dry western states - Bring Me The News

Minnesota fire crews head to dry western states

Minnesota is sending many of its firefighters and equipment to southwestern states plagued by prolonged dry conditions. The Duluth News Tribune reports most of Minnesota’s forested areas have seen above-normal rainfall. Last summer was a much different story. Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the Pagami Creek fire east of Ely.
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Minnesota is sending many of its firefighters and equipment to southwestern states plagued by prolonged dry conditions. The Duluth News Tribune reports most of Minnesota’s forested areas have seen above-normal rainfall.

Last summer was a much different story. Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the Pagami Creek fire east of Ely. It was the state’s largest fire in 80 years or more -- charring almost 100,000 acres of pristine forest.

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Ground crews are still battling the Cummings Lake fire Monday near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The fire, which started Sunday afternoon, is now about 20 acres in size and is located in a lowland area about 12 miles northwest of Ely. Five aircraft were attacking a 50-acre fire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area on Sunday night not far from Ely, the Duluth News Tribune reports. Crews were on their way to the remote site.

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The Forest Service has closed some areas of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, where three new wildfires are burning. The largest is 75 acres. But crews are aggressively fighting another two-acre fire because it's near an area of dry timber that was part of the 1999 blowdown.

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The wildfires that have been plaguing the Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness area in northeastern Minnesota are contained, controlled or out, the U.S. Forest Service reported Saturday. However, with the forecast of dry weather in the next few days, campfire restrictions remain in the area and some lake and trail closures are still in effect.

Dry conditions give wildfire season an early start

Mid-February is not usually wildfire season. But this is no ordinary winter. Over the weekend crews responded to a grass fire near Hugo and a forest fire near Superior. Andover's fire chief says "it's almost scary dry" for this time of year.

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About 100 of the 177 campsites have reopened after the 93,000-acre area was closed because of last year's Pagami Creek wildfire, according Minnesota Public Radio. Crews believe the area is safe, but urge visitors to be cautious around standing dead trees.

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Visitors to the popular tourist town of Ely will notice it does not look the same. Lush green forest was devastated in a blaze this week just south of the Boundary Waters gateway, and will take years to recover. The last mile of Highway 1 just south of town will lose much of the distinctive forest that has lined the road. The fire sparked Thursday was well under control late Friday.