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


Fire crews extinguish several small fires
Rhonda Silence 6/25/07

Local firefighting personnel responded to three separate fire incidents last week, near Gull Lake, Moon Lake and along the Brule River. One was caused by a tree on a power line; two were ignited by lightning strikes.

The fire near Gull Lake on Wednesday, June 13 was the largest and mobilized the largest response. It was spotted by a U.S. Forest Service pilot in a flight over the area. The plane, a Beaver was able to conduct water drops immediately and the Gunflint Trail Community Fire Department responded. Tom Westby of the Forest Service said the fire was right on the edge of the Ham Lake Fire. "The Gunflint Fire Department had a pretty good handle on it by the time our crew arrived," said Westby.

The fire was safely out by 3:55 p.m. Westby said it burned about 3/4 of an acre.

The other two fires were ignited by lightning strikes and were also spotted from the air on the afternoon of Saturday, June 16. Westby said the Forest Service plane flies over the forest after every lightning storm. The pilot first saw a tree on fire near Moon Lake, on the north end of East Bearskin Lake. Then, another was sighted east of Brule River, north of Trout Lake. Fire crews hiked in to the fire to put them out. "They were single trees, just smoldering," said Westby.

Westby said such on-the-spot fire fighting is a routine part of summer activities for local U.S. Forest Service and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) personnel. However, he acknowledged that awareness of the hazards of wildfire has been increased for Northland residents after the Ham Lake wildfire in May. Many people will be reassured to learn that fire crews are on standby all summer long, conducting a variety of projects. When a flyover detects a fire, they are prepared to respond.

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