Watching the Burn Windows

Photo by Dennis Neitzke
Firefighters keep a watchful eye on the prescribed burn boundaries.
Photo by Dennis Neitzke
Hand ignition was used to start a prescribed burn near Iron Lake.
The US Forest Service and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
(DNR) took advantage of cooler fall weather to complete several prescribed
burns in the Gunflint Ranger District starting on Wednesday, September 26
and through the weekend. At press time, Gunflint Ranger District crews are
"mopping up" and monitoring the units burned over the last week. At press
time, Forest Service spokesperson Kris Reichenbach said additional
prescribed burns are not planned through the rest of the week, due to
forecasts for cool moist weather.
However, she added that Fire Managers closely watch the weather forecasts
for future "windows" for burning. Additional burns, including units inside
the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness are planned pending favorable
weather conditions. "Every prescribed burn is 'planned' until the decision
is made to go ahead with ignition," explained Reichenbach. "The decision to
go ahead is based on weather, fuel conditions, and suppression resources
available. Things can happen quickly as 'burn windows' open."
Unplanned fires can also halt plans for prescribed units, such as a small
fire on Monday, October 1, which was spotted and quickly put out by fire
crews. The fire was in the ditch along the Gunflint Trail, near the Cross
River. The Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department responded and had air
support from a US Forest Service Beaver plane and a DNR CL 215 tanker
helicopter. By 4:45 p.m. that afternoon, the fire dubbed the "Cross River
fire" was under control, with three engines standing by watching for
flare-ups. It was not related to any of the prescribed burns.
The Gunflint Ranger District started area burns with approximately 8 acres
of the Trapper Lake prescribed burn along the Gunflint Trail Corridor. The
District completed part of the Iron Mash burn (109 acres). Also completed
was the entire Mayhew Lake site prep burn of 30 acres.
On September 28, the Gunflint Ranger District continued and treated a total
of 192 acres in the "Skipper Lake" prescribed burn. Weather conditions held
and on September 30, the Gunflint District burned Fuel Treatment Unit (FTU)
201, including 313 acres inside the BWCAW, approximately 20 miles north of
Grand Marais.
Fuel Treatment Unit 210, which will be 331 acres entirely within the BWCAW
and the Dogleg prescribed burn, 300 acres were postponed. The Dogleg burn is on the end of the Gunflint Trail near Seagull Lake.
According to Donna Hart, of the Gunflint Ranger District, approximately 50
firefighters have arrived in Cook County to assist with the controlled
burns, from Rogue River, Oregon, Alaska and Montana. The fire fighters are
being housed at local motels and at the end of the Gunflint Trail and will
be working on more prescribed burns, as weather allows.

Smoke on the water.... Smoke drifted from the prescribed
burn area at Mayhew Lake to Birch Lake.

Related Links

Greenwood/Brule Burn Story Canadian Prescribed Burn
2001 Prescribed Burns Prescribed Burn Gallery