Forest Service Explains Early Fire Strategy

With the Pagami Creek Fire currently 30% contained, Forest Service officials took time to explain why they let the lightening-caused fire burn prior to the day it blazed across 80,000 acres of forest in a matter of hours.

The Duluth News Tribune has the comprehensive story HERE.

Elected officials and local residents have questioned the Forest Service’s management of the fire. The Ely Echo published THIS scathing editorial on the subject recently.

Saying the surge in the fire that took place on September 12 — some 25 days after the fire originally ignited — was unprecedented and not forecast by computer models, Forest Service officials defended their actions to focus on preventing the fire moving to the north while at the same time letting the fire’s southern edge burn into the wilderness. As a general rule, naturally caused fires in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness are allowed to burn, if they don’t threaten lives or property.

The Forest Service effort on the northern edge of the fire included dropping gasoline from aircraft. Officials wanted to create a fuel-free buffer between the fire and the homes and resorts on the Fernberg Road and Lake One. Officials contend the proactive efforts on the northern part of the fire kept that area safe on the day when the blaze raced to the south and threatened Isabella.

Mark Van Every, the Kawishiwi District Ranger who is in charge of the area, allowed that if he had known on August 18, the day the fire started, what he knows now, he would have doused the fire immediately.

Keeping Track of Developments … Current firefighting efforts are centering on the northeastern edge of the fire deep in the BWCAW. Minnesota Public Radio reported on that work yesterday, HERE. Some campfire restrictions and road closures in the area have been lifted. Keep up with such developments, HERE, on the fire’s incident web site.

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