North Shore Fire Watch
Cook County Star, June 10, 2002
eyes have been focused on the blow down area of forest on the Gunflint
Trail, so it is somewhat surprising that the first significant fire
fighting effort of 2002 was in the Tofte and Finland area. Three
lightning strike fires dubbed the "North Shore Complex" had
dozens of fire crews working in remote areas. At press time, 120
people were continuing to mop up, locating hot spots and securing fire
The Sugar Loaf fire had local Volunteer Fire
Departments scrambling to find it on Friday, May 31. Tofte and
Schroeder Fire Departments were paged out for a fire at Sugar Loaf Cove
at 1:00 p.m. They responded to Sugar Loaf Cove Interpretive Center
and found no fire. Air support directed the departments to a
one-and-a-half acre fire approximately half a mile up the Sugar Loaf
Road. Forest Service crews took over at approximately 2:00
p.m. By Saturday afternoon, June 1, the Minnesota Incident Command
System (MICS) reported the fire was 100% contained.
150-acre Balsam Fire was spotted Friday, May 31 by aerial observation
about two-and-a-half acres from the nearest open road. Tofte
District Ranger Jackie Andrew said, "It took quite a while to get
access. The crew got a dozer in on Saturday morning. The
dozer put a fireline around approximately 60% of the fire and hand-crews
did the rest with the assistance of helicopters," said Andrew.
Monday, June 3 the Balsam Lake fire was 80% contained. Forest
Service Fire Management Officer Tim Norman said things were going
well. "We're hoping to be done by Thursday. We're
mopping up now --retrieving gear and doing rehab work."
100-acre Lookout Mountain fire in Lake County is also considered part of
the "North Shore complex." Heavy fuels and poor access
hampered containment efforts at that site. On Monday, June 3, MNIC
said it was 50% contained.
Fires were also being battled
near Brainerd and Moose Lake. A total of eleven 20-person crews
from out of Minnesota are assisting local firefighters in the efforts
throughout the sate. In addition, three C1-215s, tow conventional
air tankers, and 18 helicopters are positioned around the state.
said the Tofte District was prepared for the fires. "Because
of the dry weather and the recent storms, we were aware the potential
for fire was high. Crews were called in last week from
remain on for campfires in the blowdown area of the Boundary Waters
Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) and no burning permits are being issued in
north central and northeastern Minnesota.