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With BWCA wildfire 53 percent contained, officials plan for wilderness rehab

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Firefighters clear brush
Firefighters clear brush and small trees from a remote forest road north of Isabella, Minn. while creating a fire line Thursday afternoon during continuing efforts to contain the Pagami Creek Fire.
MPR Photo/Derek Montgomery

Drier and warmer conditions over the weekend kicked up small blazes in parts of the Pagami Creek Fire area, but the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in Grand Rapids says containment of the fire is now up to 53 percent. 

Spokeswoman Cynthia Sage says the progress has allowed firefighters to lay more hoses between lakes, constructing so-called "wet lines."

"By putting down a wet line and then being able to construct fire line by digging down to the mineral dirt, they can provide a break for the fire," she said. "If you've got a big running hot blaze, like we had on the 12th of September, it could easily jump over that line. but we've got creeping and smoldering so when it hits that wet, bare dirt, it'll just stop right there."

As firefighters slowly contain the 93,500-acre blaze, officials are starting to think about ways to rehabilitate wilderness land damaged by the fire-fighting effort.

"Where they've dug up dirt and laid fire hose and where they've actually intervened with the firefighting tactics, they'll rehabilitate that land," Sage said. "The part of the land that the fire has changed: That'll have to be rehabilitated by nature."