US Forest Service

Smoky skies, closures and active fires a reality in BWCA to start August

Smoky skies lingered over the Boundary Waters region to start the busiest time of year in canoe country, though recent rains have slowed down fire activity inside the designated wilderness.

The United States Forest Service shared an update Aug. 2 noting that forests in the region continue to experience drought conditions. That being the case, in part due to favorable weather and suppression efforts from Forest Service personnel, no existing fires have increased in size within the last 72 hours. There are multiple active fires burning inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, including the Fourtown Lake Fire. This fire was reported at 265 acres as of Aug. 2. Fire crews on the ground continue to strengthen the west and northwest firebreak by removing vegetation and putting down hose lines, according to the Forest Service.

Closer to the WTIP listening area, the Agamok Fire is located a quarter mile east of the Kekekabic Trail in the BWCA. The fire was called controlled and final mapping had it at 1.25 acres, the Forest Service reports. It is no longer staffed. The Beth Fire, three miles southwest of Sawbill Lake, was declared out at two acres.

Meanwhile, three active fires burning inside Quetico Provincial Park continue to have the potential to spread across the border into the areas near Crooked and Iron Lakes. The Forest Service continues to monitor and assess these fires daily.

The combination of fires burning in the BWCA and existing threat of wildfires in Quetico continues to keep a large section of the designated wilderness closed to start August.

An air quality alert due to wildfire smoke remains in effect for all of Superior National Forest and the BWCA. A campfire ban also remains in effect for the region at this time.