BWCAW Visitors Choke From Pagami Fire Smoke

By KBJR News 1

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    Photo Courtesy: Carl Karasti from September 11, 2011

    (Photo Courtesy: Carl Karasti)

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September 12, 2011 Updated Sep 13, 2011 at 10:03 AM CDT

(Northland's NewsCenter)---The battle between nature and fire officials continues with the Pagami Creek Fire, but this week, nature seems to be leading the fight.

The fire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area has exploded to more than 16-thousand acres.

DNR spokesperson Jean Bergerson said that the smoke is making it difficult to pinpoint the exact size of the fire.

Air quality warnings have been issued for as far away as Wisconsin for people with compromised respiratory systems due to the spreading smoke.

New firefighting crews from outside the region are being called in but it has been difficult to get the crews they need due to the massive fires in Texas and California.

Evacuations are now mandatory for parts of the Boundary Waters Canoe area and just outside the national park.

Areas included in the evacuation are Lake County Road seven in the area of Kawishiwi Lake.

A new concern now is that the fire may be moving toward the blowdown area from the storm of 1999.

If it gets into that region the timber on the ground is dry and stacked like cord-wood. Fire officials say it will go up like a box of matches.

Fire crews are focusing containment efforts on the northern edge and southern tip of the fire where it has escaped the BWCA boundaries.

Airplanes and helicopters are being used to drop water on the flames while ground crews are seeing limited action due to high winds.

Campfire restrictions are in place for the entire boundary waters area.

Posted to the web: Jennifer Walch