The Pagami Creek Fire, which has so far consumed some 100,000 acres of Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness forest, is the largest forest fire in Minnesota since 1918.
Roughly 300 firefighters are battling the blaze. Residents in the corridor south of the BWCAW and north of Highway 1 have been advised to evacuate their homes. Most entry points in the BWCAW have been closed and wilderness rangers are paddling lake to lake urging campers to leave the area.
The fire, which made its most significant advances across the landscape on Monday, is significantly larger than the the 2007 Ham Lake Fire which burned 38,000 acres in Minnesota and another 38,000 in Ontario. The Cavity Lake Fire in 2006 burned nearly 32,000 acres. In 1918 the Cloquet Fire in Carlton County burned 250,000 acres.
According to the map, HERE, on the incident web site for the Pagami Creek Fire, the northern border of the burned area now stretches from the south shore of Lake One, across the forests surrounding Lakes Two, Three, Four, and Hudson Lake and then continues east across the southern third of Insula Lake to Lake Polly.
The fire’s western edge, begins on the eastern shores of Clearwater, Pietro, and Gull Lakes and runs south southwesterly to Bog Lake, which is south of the Isabella River. The southeastern boundary of the fire runs from Bog Lake, across the northern shores of Isabella Lake, and northeast of Kawishiwi Lake to Lake Polly.
Forecast winds from the northwest are expected to push the fire south and east on Wednesday. Officials are hopeful, however, that cooler air temperatures in the region will slow the spread of the fire.
Mid-Wednesday Update: Reporting from Minnesota Public Radio, HERE, and the StarTribune, HERE, suggests that calmer winds and cooler temperatures are slowing the spread of the Pagami Creek Fire this morning. Officials only expect the fire to advance a half mile today.
An MPR interview with Jean Bergerson, spokeswoman with the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center, can be heard HERE.
The harrowing story from the Duluth News Tribune about a Michigan couple trapped in the BWCAW as the fire surrounded them is HERE.
There’s an illuminating map showing the advances by the fire over time HERE.