Windy, cool weather helps and hinders BWCA firefighters

Ojibwe crew
An Ojibwe crewmember from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Michigan works a line off Forest Road 356i north of Isabella, Minn., near the southern edge of the Pagami Creek Fire.
Photo for MPR by Steve Foss

Closures for areas adjacent to the Pagami Creek Fire remain in place this weekend despite an announcement from officials that the blaze is now 90 percent contained.

Minnesota Interagency Fire Center spokeswoman Cynthia Sage says the weather is both helping and hindering firefighters' efforts in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

"We've had a good amount of moisture," she said. But at the same time, winds of up to 35 mph are also stirring up some fires. "It's just kind of a mixed bag of weather. It does make things a little cooler for the folks that are out actually working on the fire."

Sage said crews on the eastern portion of the fire will continue to build fire lines near Ferne Lake, while firefighters in west, north and south portions of the fire will haul out equipment they no longer need.

Temperatures are expected to top out Saturday in the northwest at about 48 degrees, and Sage said the wind chill will make it feel 10 degrees cooler.

Firefighter safety remains a concern, and there are plans to bring crews into their camps if necessary.

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