Colder Temps Slow Pagami Fire

By KBJR News 1

September 14, 2011 Updated Sep 15, 2011 at 11:19 AM CDT

(Northland's NewsCenter)---The Pagami Creek Fire has grown to become the largest fire in Minnesota since 1918.

At this point it covers approximately 10 percent of the vast Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

The Pagami Creek fire has exceeded 101,000 acres on Wednesday and continues to burn out of control.

The fire has pushed south one mile outside the BWCA limits, but officials predict the fire will travel at a slower rate over the next three days spreading to fewer acres of forest land.

"Just a quick projection is we will probably see some fire activity by the weekend," Jim Hinds, Incident Commander of the MN Incident Management Team said. "Not as dramatic as we saw earlier in the week, but we will see some fire activity."

Strong winds and dry conditions in the northeastern part of the state caused the fire to grow from nearly 5,000 acres to more than 11,000 acres by Monday. By Tuesday the fire had spread to more than 70,000 acres.

Fire officials have done all they can to anticipate the fires growth and protect the public and have been effective in continuing to hold the northwest corner of the fire.

"We had people out where we thought was way in front of where the fire was going to go that day [Monday,] trying to move the public out of the area, to keep them out of areas that were unsafe as the fire continued to progress," Mark Van Every, Kawishiwi District Ranger said. "As we all know, it went much further. "

With more than 230 personnel helping to fight the flames, and more on the way, officials remain optimistic they will contain the fire and keep it away from public harm.

"There's parts of this fire that will probably burn until snow fall," Doug Anderson, a Public Information Officer said. "You know but, what will happen is, eventually we will get it tied in, and we will be pushing it one way or another. We can do some burn-out operations, to protect different areas. There's a lot of different tools in the kit."

Fire officials will continue to assess acreage increases around the fire perimeters as smoke clears, which will determine their strategy.

"Its an assessment of what values are to be protected, what are the costs involved, and picking the appropriate management tool to react to it, so sometimes, you put them out, sometimes you don't," Hinds said.

People in the area are encouraged to attend a public meeting to discuss fire conditions in Cook County including closures and fire management preparation.

That meeting will be held at the Schroeder Town Hall at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

Posted to the web: Jennifer Walch