Firefighters cut lines to contain Cummings Lake wildfire in BWCA - New York News

Firefighters cut lines to contain Cummings Lake wildfire in BWCA

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View from a firefighter's canoe on Cummings Lake View from a firefighter's canoe on Cummings Lake
Photo courtesy of the Kawishiwi Ranger District Photo courtesy of the Kawishiwi Ranger District
ELY, Minn. (KMSP) -

Campground managers confirm a forest fire started in the Boundary Water Canoe Area on Sunday about 12 miles northwest of Ely, growing to 20 acres by Monday afternoon.

FOX 9 News' sister station in Duluth, KQDS FOX 21, first learned of the fire reports at about 5 p.m. after a plume of white smoke formed. The cause of the fire, which has scorched about 30 acres so far, is still unknown.

The Cummings Lake fire is burning in a lowland area filled with black spruce. So far, one Type 3 helicopter and 14 firefighters have been assigned to contain the fire.

Three aerial fire patrols will be flown on Monday, and an increase in air traffic is expected while the Forest Service works to suppress the flames.

"It's really close to a lake, so ... we got people on the ground because it's a lot safer than the Pagami fire was last year," said Steve Kuennen, of the National Forest Service.

A control line on the eastern flank was finished on Monday while air resources held the western flank overnight and through the morning. A hand crew began constructing a western line on Monday afternoon that stretches from Otter north to the head of the fire. Another crew is building a line from Cummings Lake to control the northern side.

Becca Manlove, a spokeswoman for the Superior National Forest, confirmed that no structures are threatened by the fire. The remote section of canoe country is not accessible by roads.

So far, no official closures related to the fire have been announced; however, officials do not recommend camping around Otter Lake for the time being.

Weather reports show light winds of 5 to 10 miles per hour traveling west and southwest are expected on Monday.

Many counties in central and northern Minnesota are rated either high or very high for fire danger, but there is no burn ban. Instead, DNR officials are reminding campers that fires shouldn't be larger than 3 feet high or across.

On Monday, a fire patrol flight found a new fire had grown to a quarter of an acre one half mile north of the gravel pit off Cloquet Line, near Cedar Lake. Forest Service Floatplanes, a Type 3 helicopter and a ground crew have been dispatched to surround the fire and mop up hotspots.

Last year, the Pagami Creek wildfire blackened 145 square miles in the BWCA area, which contains more than 2,100 campsites within the 1,700 square miles of wilderness.

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