Minnesota News

Wildfire prompts temporary closure of part of the Boundary Waters

A plane drops water on a wildfire
A CL415 airplane drops water on the Spice Lake Fire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on Thursday.
USDA Forest Service photo courtesy of Bridger Aerospace

Part of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is being temporarily closed to visitors, as crews continue to battle a wildfire amid ongoing elevated fire danger in the region.

The closure order due to the Spice Lake Fire goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday and affects nearly 50 lakes — including portages and about 80 campsites — as well as a portion of the Kekekabic Trail.

Affected lakes include portions of Knife Lake — including the South Arm — as well as Jasper, Kekekabic and Ogishkemuncie. Find the entire list below.

Superior National Forest officials said outfitters, and people holding permits for trips into that part of the BWCAW, have been notified.

“We understand that this will have a significant impact on our visitors, cooperators, and communities near the SNF. This emergency closure is necessary for the safety of our visitors, our wilderness rangers and our firefighters,” the Superior National Forest said in announcing the closure order. “Northern Minnesota is facing severe to extreme drought conditions, causing active and increasing fire across the landscape.”

A map showing lakes closed due to a wildfire
The Superior National Forest announced a temporary closure of part of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness — to take effect Friday — due to the Spice Lake Fire.
Superior National Forest

Other parts of the BWCAW remain open to visitors, though a ban on open burning — including campfires — is in effect for the wilderness and most of the rest of northeast Minnesota.

The most recent update on the Spice Lake Fire, which is burning about 10 miles southwest of the end of the Gunflint Trail, estimated its size at about 20 acres.

Crews have been dropping water on it from the air, and firefighters have been transported to the area via floatplane to battle the flames on the ground.

What’s included in the closure order

The temporary closure taking effect Friday includes the following lakes:

Agamok Lake, Ahmakose Lake, Amoeber Lake, Annie Lake, Ashdick Lake, Bonnie Lake, Callico Lake, Cap Lake, Cherry Lake, Clam Lake, Eddy Lake, Ester Lake, Fee Lake, Gijikiki Lake, Hanson Lake, Hoe Lake, Holt Lake, Jasper Lake, Jenny Lake, Kek Ponds, Kekekabic Lake, Kingfisher Lake, Knife Lake (partially closed), Lake of the Clouds, Ledge Lake, Little Knife Lake, Lunar Lake, Mueller Lake, Mueller Lake, Nabek Lake, Ogishkemuncie Lake, Ottertrack Lake, Pickle Lake, Rabbit Lake, Rivaly Lake, Roe Lake, Sagus Lake, Sema Lake, Skindance Lake, South Arm of Knife Lake, Spice Lake, Spoon Lake, Strup Lake, Toe Lake, Topaz Lake, Vee Lake, Wisini Lake.

Also included in the closure order are all zones of the Pitfall Pristine Management Area (1 through 3) and the Mugwump Pristine Management Area (1 through 5), as well as the Kekekabic Trail from the BWCAW boundary west of the Gunflint Trail to the series of portages between Thomas Lake and Ima Lake.