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Prescribed burn west of Ely escapes, becomes wildfire

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A smoke plume rises near Burntside Lake west of Ely today.

The plume comes from what was a prescribed burn near Foss Lake north of Highway 169 west of Ely.

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Approximate fire zone. Arrow represents prevailing wind direction through Sunday.

The fire escaped containment, and it is now a wildfire according the this press release U.S. Forest Service.

Subject: Foss Lake Burn Escapes to north

The Superior National Forest has a prescribed fire that escaped the containment lines this afternoon at 1400. The fire escaped to the north and west of Foss Lake. We have declared the prescribed fire a wildfire and have air tankers, helicopters, and additional ground fire fighters assisting with containing the escape.

We are also initiating aerial reconnaissance of the lakes to the north and east of the Crab lake entry point. We will notify visitors of the fire moving in the area. The fire is north of highway 169, north of the far western end of the Wolf Lake Road, west of South end of Burntside Lake.

The smoke column can be seen from many miles away.

The smoke plume is also now visible as a small smudge on weather satellites. Here's the GOES 1 km resolution shot from Thursday afternoon. You can see a small point source for the smoke plume drifting off to the north.

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NOAA via College of Dupage

Here's an animated view of the still relatively small plume.

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NOAA via College of Dupage

My spidey weather senses don't like the looks of where this fire is, or the fire weather conditions the next few days. I am familiar with this area west of Burntside Lake. With southerly winds the next few days, this fire has the potential to grow and move north into the popular Crab Lake area of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. It also could threaten the west side of  beautiful Burntside Lake if it is not contained.

Light southerly to west winds between 5 and 15 mph will blow in the area into Saturday. Winds will likely increase dramatically Sunday as a front approaches, and could gust to over 30 mph out of the south-southwest. Warmer temperatures and low humidity, and no rain are in the forecast through Sunday.

NOAA's NAM model shows predicted temperatures and winds into Sunday night.

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NOAA via College of Dupage.

I am hopeful they will get this fire under containment soon. If not, fire weather conditions are favorable for the fire to grow considerably by late Sunday. This may become a much bigger news story in the days ahead.