More BWCA closures after new fires ignite

U.S. Forest officials have closed some areas of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area because more small wildfires have ignited.

Three fires are now burning in the wilderness area, in addition to a 420-acre fire burning in the Quetico Provincial Park just across the Canadian border.

One fire is just a quarter acre in size. The two largest blazes are burning northeast of Ely near the Canadian border. The Parley Lake Fire is estimated at 75 acres. Officials have closed seven campsites on nearby Crooked Lake.

The Hoist Bay Fire is much smaller, only 2.5 acres. But fire information officer Becca Manlove said crews have closed areas around Basswood Lake because the fire is burning in downed timber from the 1999 blowdown storm.

"We were more concerned about that one because it's in blowdown, so we know that that fuel can get going pretty hot, pretty fast," Manlove said.

Manlove said several water dropping aircraft were able to knock the fire back. Cool temperatures and higher humidity last night helped the effort.

Parts of Knife Lake are also closed because of a fire on the Canadian side that's now grown to 420 acres.

Patty Johnson, a fire management officer in Grand Marais, said the forest has only received about 1 inch of rain in the past month, 4 to 6 inches less than normal.

"We're starting to see some effects, like the birch. The leaves on them are dropping early or just shriveling up, [a] pretty good sign of drought stress," Johnson said.

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