Forest Service continues to burn brush piles along the Gunflint Trail
WTIP file photo
Outdoor News

Forest Service continues to burn brush piles along the Gunflint Trail

The WTIP News Department was notified last night about a situation involving a prescribed fire causing concern for travelers along the Gunflint Trail.

Staff from the US Forest Service are burning brush piles across Superior National forest in October, including along the south side of the Gunflint Trail between Bow Lake Road and Clearwater Road.

When responding to public inquiry of the fire and the situation last night, members of the Gunflint Trail Fire Department found there were four or five large white pines with fire in the trunks of the trees in addition to some brush within the pile footprint.

Wednesday evening around 7 p.m., some of the burn pile fires appeared to be ignited, according to Jim Morrison, the chief of the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department. Members of the Gunflint Trail Fire Department decided to suppress the fire, he added.

The fire department and Forest Service were both on scene after the fire department decided to suppress the fire on some large white pines and a small brush area. After consultation with the Forest Service, the Gunflint Fire Department left some of the smaller fires to burn overnight. The Forest Service has been performing understory fuels reduction along the Gunflint Trail creating these brush piles, the area of concern is one of many locations across the forest currently planned for prescribed burning when conditions allow, according to the Forest Service.

The Forest Service said there was no threat to public safety at any point Oct. 11 or 12 regarding the burning of the brush piles near Clearwater Road. Forest Service personnel said the agency would not have suppressed any of the brush piles or fires that were in question near Clearwater Road on the night of Oct. 11.  In many areas of this project there are approximately 100 brush piles per acre, which during the evenings may not be apparent from the Gunflint Trail.

Patrick Johnson, the east zone fire management officer with the U.S. Forest Service, told WTIP Thursday morning there are numerous brush piles ready to burn on the east side of Superior National Forest, from the Gunflint Trail to Isabella area. The Forest Service has been using prescribed fire to burn brush piles along and near the Gunflint Trail for several weeks. The agency will continue to burn these piles in the weeks ahead, as conditions allow, Johnson said.

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, Johnson said.

Joy VanDrie, a public affairs officer for the Forest Service on Superior National Forest, said some of the brush piles actively burning near the Gunflint Trail and other roadways will likely be visible at night as the work continues this fall.