Forest Service resumes burning brush piles along the Gunflint Trail this week

Forest Service resumes burning brush piles along the Gunflint Trail this week

The U.S. Forest Service will resume their brush pile burning operations in the Superior National Forest along the Gunflint Trail this week. The Forest Service has been using prescribed fire to burn brush piles along and near the Gunflint Trail for several weeks.

Starting at approximately 10 a.m. today, October 16, the Forest Service will begin burning piles across from Swamper Lake near mid-trail of the Gunflint leading to potential traffic congestion due to curiosity from the public and passerby’s. Burning efforts will continue tomorrow, Oct. 17 and if needed, Oct. 18.

The Forest Service said in a statement released on Oct. 16, the plan is to have two fire engines with overhead lights along the Gunflint Trail to help slow traffic. In addition, numerous Forest Service public information officials will be available to answer questions at the Moose Viewing Trail and at the Swamper Lake Kiosk. The Forest Service will have smoke signs along the Gunflint Trail in the immediate area.

There will be about 10 firefighters conducting the brush pile ignitions. The public is advised that initial fire behavior will be fairly dramatic, but will die off within 20-30 minutes after ignition. There will likely be some snags and some surrounding live trees involved in the fire. If the trees are within 50 feet of a road, the Forest Service will use the fire engines to suppress the fire. If any trees pose a public safety hazard, the Forest Service will cut them down.

Operations will take place around 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday if needed. Personnel will remain on scene into the late evening hours on any day of ignitions until the piles have burned down enough to generate less attention. The public should be aware that the area will have smoldering and light smoke for several days. The Forest Service will patrol the piles daily, by foot, and take action as needed until an appropriate amount of precipitation has been deposited as to not be a concern.

It is a typical procedure for the Forest Service to light a brush pile, monitor it until it is no longer a threat to spread or “creep” across the forest landscape, and leave the scene while the fire burns out slowly, said Patrick Johnson, the east zone fire management officer with the U.S. Forest Service, told WTIP in a recent interview.

The Forest Service said they expect the burn piles will continue to smolder until the next rainfall, which is expected in the forecast starting Wednesday, Oct. 18.

A map of the Rescue Understory Fuels Reduction is below: