Pagami Creek fire in BWCA grows to 11,000 acres

Pagami Creek fire
The Pagami Creek fire burns in the distance over Farm Lake on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2011. Moose Track Adventures owner Jim Blauch said the fire has gotten worse since Sunday and now looks "like an atomic bomb went off."
Photo courtesy Jim Blauch, Moose Track Adventures

The Pagami Creek fire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness grew from 4,500 acres to 11,000 acres over the weekend, but the weather forecast in the Ely area calls for a 70 percent chance of rain on Monday, and that may slow the fire's progress.

Meanwhile, fire information specialist Jean Bergerson says additional crews arrived on Sunday to try and keep the blaze from spreading outside the wilderness.

"The intention is, as it's been all along, to keep this thing within the wilderness, and we had just a slight area on the southeast corner that crossed the Isabella River yesterday so the intention is to put out that area of the fire," she said.

"Today is going to be a pivotal day, we know smoke maybe pushed in several directions so people should be aware that they may be getting some smoke and ash from the fire as the afternoon progresses."

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Thirty firefighters are battling the blaze. Another 90 have been requested.

Officials have now closed eight entries into the Boundary Waters as a precaution. They say campers already in the area will be allowed to use those routes, but they've also asked paddlers to stay out of some areas, and they're offering help getting campers to their vehicles if they leave at a point different from where they started.

"The message to the public is, continue to plan your trip, if you're anticipating coming up here, just check the entry points and make sure that they can be rerouted if they were coming in on an entry point that's closed," Bergerson said.

There are also new fire restrictions in the area. Campfires are only allowed between 6 p.m. and midnight.