Favorable weather helps crews make progress toward containing Isle Royale wildfire

A wildfire smolders along a hillside
The Mount Franklin fire smolders along a hillside near the eastern end of Isle Royale National Park. It was first detected on Saturday.
Bridget Byrne | National Park Service via Isle Royale National Park file

Favorable weather conditions have helped crews make good progress toward containing a wildfire at Isle Royale National Park, and allowed park officials to reopen some trails and campgrounds.

Authorities are still trying to determine how the fire started.

The National Park Service reported Tuesday that high humidity and light winds slowed the spread of the 6-acre fire on the Lake Superior island about 20 miles off Minnesota's North Shore.

The conditions also allowed firefighters — including a team of 10 from Minnesota — to lay hose line around the fire's perimeter. More favorable weather is in the forecast.

“While significant progress suppressing the fire has occurred,” the Park Service reported Tuesday, “the fire is not yet considered contained.”

The fire was first reported Saturday in the Mount Franklin area on the eastern end of the island, when people saw smoke rising into the air. It was initially estimated at more than 10 acres in size on Sunday, before further observations allowed for a better estimate of 6 acres.

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Park officials initially closed a number of trails and several campgrounds in the area, and evacuated some hikers and campers. The trail closures severed the continuous trail access from Rock Harbor at the island's eastern end, to Windigo on the west.

But on Tuesday, the Park Service said that access was restored with the reopening of the Rock Harbor Trail between Rock Harbor and Daisy Farm. The Three Mile campground is also back open, as is the Lane Cove campground for people arriving by water.

Closures still in place as of Tuesday include:

  • Greenstone Ridge Trail between the Ojibway Trail junction, and the Tobin-Duncan Portage Trail junction

  • Lane Cove Trail

  • Mount Franklin Trail

  • Tobin Harbor Trail between the Mount Franklin Trail and Suzy’s Cave Trail

  • North side of the Three Mile Dock to allow park vessels to have unrestricted access

  • Cross-Country Camping Zones 8, 8A, 9A, 10, 11, 12, 33 and 36

“While fire behavior is minimal, some tree torching has still been observed, and there is considerable concern about falling trees in the affected fire area,” officials said Tuesday.

Authorities said that while the fire investigation is ongoing, they're looking for information about an illegal fire and an associated camp on the night of Aug. 12 along the Mount Franklin Trail.

No structural damage or injuries have been reported from the fire.