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BWCA Weather for Ely, Grand Marais, and the Gunflint Trail


Lutsen Barker Lake Fire Quickly Stopped

5/21/07 By Rhonda Silence 


On Thursday, May 10, with
most of Cook County’s fire
fighting resources battling the
Ham Lake Fire at the end of the
Gunflint Trail, a fire was reported
at Barker Lake in Lutsen.
Thanks to the quick response
of the Lutsen Volunteer Fire
Department and the US Forest
Service, the fire was doused
before it became another disaster.
Mark Pavelich of Lutsen who
was canoeing in the area spotted
the fire. He paddled ashore,
got back to his truck and drove
to the home of Larry Waddell,
the closest residence. At 6:15
p.m., Waddell notified the
Cook County Law Enforcement
Center that there was a fire
at the snowmobile shelter at
the south side of Barker Lake.
The Lutsen and Tofte Fire
Departments were immediately
paged, as well as the US Forest
Service Dispatch. Tofte served
on standby as Lutsen responded.
Lutsen firefighters parked at
the end of the Barker Lake Road
and quickly made the approximately
one-mile hike to assess
the situation. A four-wheel drive
pickup was used to haul in light
equipment—chainsaws, buckets,
and axes. Firefighters literally
formed a ‘bucket brigade,’
scooping water from Barker
Lake to douse the smoldering
fire at the base of several cedar

“When we cut down one of
the cedars, flames came out of
the tree,” reported Lutsen Fire
Chief Fred Schmidt.
Lutsen Firefighter John
Groth added that the department
became a bucket and helmet
brigade. “To keep water on
the fire, we actually took off our
helmets and used them to scoop
The US Forest Service arrived
at the scene with a grass rig, a
small truck with a large water
tank, and mopped up the fire, to
everyone’s relief.
Sheriff Deputy Don Phillips
said the cause of the fire was
under investigation, but noted
that it appeared to have been
human caused because there
had been no lighting strikes in
that area.
At the Lutsen Township
meeting on Tuesday, May
15, Supervisors commended
the Lutsen Volunteer Fire
Department for its quick
response to the Barker Lake
fire, as well as for all its hard
work up the Gunflint Trail on
the Ham Lake Fire. Fourteen of
the department’s 16 firefighters
have spent numerous days
assisting with the battle against
the wildfire.


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