Couple Narrowly Escapes Pagami Fires

By KBJR News 1

September 13, 2011 Updated Sep 13, 2011 at 7:17 PM CDT

Duluth, MN - (The Northland's News Center) - As the Pagami fire continues to rage, some campers have had to literally flee for their lives.

Mike Ehlert and his girlfriend were camping in the Boundary Waters when they smelled the smoke and then saw the flames.

It was a dramatic and terrifying escape.

Mike Ehlert and his girlfriend carried a radio with them but it gave no warning of the danger lurking around the corner.

Ehlert said he heard what sounded like a freight train coming straight toward them.

When he looked up he saw the tree tops on fire not very far in the distance.

Ehlert knew he would not be able to get out in time so he and his girlfriend grabbed their dogs and canoe and headed for the water.

"The fire came upon us as a freight train would rumbling down the tracks, it was way out there and all of the sudden it just blew right through and there was only enough time to literally scurry down to the water, get in the water and throw the canoe on top of us and sit in the water seeking shelter," Ehlert says.

Mike Ehlert says they stayed under the canoe for about 30 minutes until they were able to get into canoe and paddle back to their vehicle.
That frightening paddle took three and a half hours through thick black smoke.

Ehlert says he say eight or nine other cars parked in the parking lot where he had left his car.

He is unaware if anyone else remains trapped by the fire.