BWCA fire nears 1999 blowdown area

The Superior National Forest has expanded a closure area in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area because of a small wildfire.

The Wooden Leg Fire is only a quarter acre in size, but it's burning very close to an area of highly flammable timber from the 1999 blowdown.

The closure is in the area surrounding Ensign Lake, roughly 20 miles east of Ely. It's now been expanded to several more nearby lakes.

Acting District Ranger Carl Skustad said he doesn't want to risk campers getting in front of a moving fire.

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"The Ensign lake area really has only one [way] in and one out," Skustad said. "If the winds do pick up and it stays dry like it's forecasted [to], I want to have enough time to evacuate people from that lake area."

Forecasters say weather will likely remain dry for another week.

"Our drought moisture codes are very high, which means our duff and forest floor is very dry, so we need to stay on top of our game and watch every storm that moves through," Skustad said.

Water dropping planes were able to knock the fire back from the air, but it's still actively burning. At least 30 firefighters are on the ground battling several wildfires in the Boundary Waters.