Fire Crews Continue to Battle Wildfire Near Ely

By KBJR News 1

September 3, 2012 Updated Sep 3, 2012 at 10:58 PM CDT

Ely, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- Fire crews are battling a wild fire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness northwest of Ely.

The wildfire is in the southwest corner on a peninsula separating the west end of Cummings Lake from the northeast side of Otter Lake and is estimated at more than 30 acres.

According to officials with the Superior National Forest, the fire was discovered Sunday afternoon.

One Type 3 helicopter and 14 firefighters are working to contain the fire.
There will be increased air traffic in the area due to the suppression efforts.

Superior National Forest officials say that due to the fire's location, well within the BWCA, no structures or civilians are in immediate danger.

"It's in an area that's hardly ever traveled, especially right now with low water conditions," said Superior National Forest Information Officer, Becca Manlove.

Manlove says that the fire caused large amounts of smoke, causing it to appear closer to populated areas than it actually was.

There are no official closures at this time. However, officials say that camping on Otter Lake is not recommended.

The cause of the fire near Cumming Lake is still under investigation.

According to Superior National Forest officials, an average of 60 to 70 wildfires happen every year. They estimate that about half of those fires are started by people.

Officials with the Superior National Forest say that when conditions are dry, it is more important than ever for campers to take caution when starting camp fires.

"Water conditions are down low. We've had no precipitation. So it's a time to be very careful in the forest," said Superior National Forest Information Assistant, Maggie Whiting.

Whiting says she urges every camper who comes to the Forest office to purchase a BWCA permit to use caution and obey forest rules when using camp fires.

During dry conditions Whiting recommends starting camp fires only when necessary.

"That's [starting a fire] something you should consider," Whiting said, "Do you really need to have a fire? Is that necessary for your experience? Do you want to take that risk?"

Fort Frances #53, the Canadian Fire on Norway Point of Basswood Lake, has grown to 20 - 30 acres. It remains on th Canadian side of the international boundary and is burning north, away from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.