Lessons Learned From Pagami Creek Fire

By KBJR News 1

December 7, 2011 Updated Oct 20, 2013 at 4:01 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northlands NewsCenter)
-- The first of several reports have come out evaluating the management of the largest forest fire in the history of the Superior National Forest.

The historic Pagami Creek Fire burned more than 145 square miles of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness before firefighters were pulled out in late October.

A canoe was swamped on October 16th sending three firefighters into cold water and exposing them to hypothermic conditions for close to 25 minutes.

This incident reveals the struggles faced in an environment totally foreign to the majority of the fire crews.

The crew in this case launched off the eastern shore of Alice Lake to meet a floatplane in the southwest corner of the lake.

After being shielded from the winds from a rock reef, approximately 150 feet from their campsite, the crews reached the main body of water which was exposed to high winds and waves, water began to spill in, swamping the canoe.

A nearby fire crew heard their distress call and a float plane rescued them.

Two of the three crew members were treated by hypothermia and were released shortly after.

The forest service now wants to use this incident to learn and progress their firefighting strategy when dealing with out of the ordinary conditions.

Written for the web by: Zach Vavricka