Foss Lake Fire, Evening Update

Another day of strong winds and no significant precipitation tested the fireline again today, but there was no additional growth and the firelines are holding. The work the crews have done the last few days allowed fire managers to consider nearly half of the fire contained.  MNICS Team C, Brian Pisarek, is managing the fire.

The northwest side of the fire from Crab Lake to the south end of Clark Lake is the hottest part of the fire. Firefighters made good progress constructing saw line, laying down hose, and suppressing hot spots along the fire’s perimeter on the northern half.

Three hotshot crews were demobilized from the fire today. Three more will continue to camp in the wilderness: two on Crab Lake and one on Clark Lake. One hotshot crew arrived on the incident today and they’ll be hiking to the fire every day.

Members of the Lake Vermilion Fire Brigade, used their fire boat to shuttle outgoing crews, their gear, and canoes across Burntside Lake. Along with members of the Morse/Fall Lake Fire Department and their boat, they also continued to make contact with Burntside property owners, sharing information with them about FireWise and defensible space.

Weather and Fire Behavior: The fire area did not receive significant precipitation today. There’s still a chance of rain this evening, measuring possibly a tenth of an inch. Tomorrow will bring light winds, a temperature near 80 degrees, and humidity around 30 percent. Fire behavior is expected to be moderate (for example, no crowning).

Closures: Crab Lake entry point #4 is the only officially closed BWCAW entry point. The following BWCAW portages and lakes/rivers, including campsites, are closed:

  • portage Burntside Lake to Crab Lake (entry point #4)
  • portage from Cummings Lake to Korb Lake; portage from Cummings Lake to Korb River
  • lakes and associated portages: Crab, Boulder, Phantom, Battle, Sprite, Meat, Clark, Glimmer, Hassle, Saca, Little Crab, Korb, Maxine, Barefoot, Little Jig, Silaca, Coxey Pond, Lunetta, Schlamn, Soroll, Glenmore, Western, Blick, Chad, Dugout, and Pine.
  • Pine Creek east of Trout Lake
  • portage from Trout Lake to Pine Lake

Closure signs are posted at normal access points to delineate the closure area. The closure order and map are located at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/4740/

Fire Statistics

Fire Start Date: May 19, 2016

Size: 1015 acres         

Containment: 45 percent

Resources: 9 crews, 2 CCM camp crews, 2 helicopters, 4 engines, 1 water tender, 277 total personnel

Fire Information

Web address: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4740/#

Email: FossLakeFireInfo@gmail.com

Phone: 218-365-2216 (new number)   

Location: US Forest Service, 1393 Hwy 169, Ely, open 8 a.m.–8 p.m.

 

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No evacuations on Burntside Lake near Ely

There are no evacuations occurring on Burntside Lake near Ely.  This morning, two US Forest Service initial attack crews (13 firefighters), the Forest Service Beaver, and Morse/Fall Lake Volunteer Fire Department firefighters responded to a fire on a small island near the Little Long Lake portage on the east arm of Burntside Lake. Two helicopters were available if needed. All aircraft have been released from the Burntside Island Fire. The fire created enough smoke for people in the area to observe. Firefighters remain on scene, working to ensure the fire is contained. No residents were evacuated.

imagejpeg_0 Monday morning, May 23. Smoke from  small island on near the Little Long Lake portage on the east arm of Burntside Lake near Ely.  There were no evacuations with this fire.

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Foss Lake Fire update: Strong winds continue

Despite being tested by strong south winds and 25-mph gusts yesterday, the fire grew just slightly (approximately 20 acres). The growth did not occur on the east side, the area of  greatest concern for spread toward Burntside Lake, but rather on the west side between Crab and Clark Lakes. The fire is managed by MNICS Team C, Brian Pisarek, incident commander.

Two water tankers (CL-415s) and firefighters on the ground limited the fire’s spread. The fire was also active near the southeast arm of Clark Lake where a hotshot crew and Chinook helicopter worked to suppress hot spots. The east side of the fire, which had been a concern, was quiet.

On the northeast side, a hotshot crew cutting saw line south from Crab Lake came within a half day’s work of joining up with firefighters working from the south. On the southern end of the fire, crews found very little heat as they mopped up from the fire perimeter to an interior depth of fifty to one hundred feet.

Today’s work plan is very much the same as yesterday: mopping up the southern perimeter, cutting saw line and laying hose on the north, using aircraft to conduct water drops on hot spots. Helicopters will also be used to assist crews with backhauling gas cans, cargo nets, and trash. Backhauling is bringing supplies, trash, and equipment—such as hose, pumps, gas cans—from the fireline to the incident command post where it will be cleaned, reused, and returned to the fire cache.

Members of the Lake Vermilion Fire Brigade, using their fire boat, will continue to shuttle crews, their canoes, and their gear across Burntside Lake as they travel to Crab or Clark Lakes to camp. Along with members of the Morse/Fall Lake Fire Department, they also continue to make contact with Burntside property owners, sharing information with them about FireWise and defensible space. Members of the St. Louis Co. Sheriff’s Rescue Squad continue to work closely with property owners.

Weather and Fire Behavior: Winds will be from the south and strong again today, gusting to 25 mph. The temperature should reach the high 70s. However, the relative humidity could significantly increase to near 50 percent, which should reduce fire behavior. The effect of high relative humidity on fire behavior could be offset by thunderstorms developing over the fire area this afternoon. Gusty, erratic winds accompanying the thunderstorms could make the fire more active. Dry lighting is not expected.

Closures: Crab Lake entry point #4 is the only officially closed BWCAW entry point. The following BWCAW portages and lakes/rivers, including campsites, are closed:

  • portage Burntside Lake to Crab Lake (entry point #4)
  • portage from Cummings Lake to Korb Lake; portage from Cummings Lake to Korb River
  • lakes and associated portages: Crab, Boulder, Phantom, Battle, Sprite, Meat, Clark, Glimmer, Hassle, Saca, Little Crab, Korb, Maxine, Barefoot, Little Jig, Silaca, Coxey Pond, Lunetta, Schlamn, Soroll, Glenmore, Western, Blick, Chad, Dugout, and Pine.
  • Pine Creek east of Trout Lake
  • portage from Trout Lake to Pine Lake

Closure signs are posted at normal access points to delineate the closure area. The closure order and map are located at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/4740/

Fire Statistics

Size: 1008 acres         

Containment: 30 percent

Fire Start Date: May 19, 2016

Resources: 9 crews, 2 helicopters, 1 air attack 4 engines, 1 water tender, 259 total personnel

Fire Information 

Web address: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4740/#

Email: FossLakeFireInfo@gmail.com

Phone: 218-365-2094 (new number)

Location: US Forest Service, 1393 Hwy 169, Ely, open 8 a.m.–8 p.m.

 

 

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Smoke visible on Foss Lake Fire

Smoke has been visible Sunday, May 22, coming from the west flank of the Foss Lake Fire. There has been some movement on that flank between Clark Lake and Crab Lake. Two CL-415 water scoopers are assisting firefighters in that area. There are also some smokes within the current perimeter south of Clark Lake. The Lone Peak Hotshots from Utah are working in that area, along with the Chinook helicopter.

Foss Lake smoke 5-22
Smoke on Foss Lake Fire. Photo by Brian Pisarek.
JudyKrishheliwash (1)

Chinook helicopter. Photo by Judy Krisch.

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Burning restrictions in force for much of Minnesota this afternoon, May 22

Variances and permits deactivated today, May 22, 2016

Deactivated counties in orange

Two-thirds of the state is under extreme or near-critical fire danger weather today. As a result, burning restrictions are in force, prescribed burn permits are deactivated and agricultural burning variances are prohibited through tomorrow. Campfires are allowed but not encouraged.

Fire danger is critical in most of northern Minnesota. A Red Flag Warning is in effect until 7 p.m. today. Other fire-prone counties include Crow Wing, Pine, South Aitkin and South Cass.

Before building a campfire, please check local fire regulations. Fire managers ask forest visitors and residents to be exceptionally careful when camping or recreating especially with current dry, warm and windy conditions. Nearly 98 percent of wildfires are human caused. Don’t let your campfire become a wildfire. Follow these safety tips:

Campfire safety tips

 Campfires allowed but not encouraged today

  • Clear a campfire site down to bare soil.
  • Build a fire ring out of rocks.
  • Keep the fire under three feet in diameter.
  • Make sure there is at least three feet of clearance around it.
  • Build the fire away from overhanging branches, steep slopes and dry grass.
  • Use only local firewood; don’t transport problem insects to new locations.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended. Even a small breeze can cause a fire to spread rapidly. Keep a bucket of water and a shovel near the campfire.
  • When putting a campfire out, drown it with water. Stir the fire with water and dirt until all the fuel is cold to the touch. Never leave a fire until it is out cold.
  • Campers are also asked to be careful with gas lanterns, barbecue grills, gas stoves and anything that can be a source of ignition for a wildfire.

Contact: Christi Powers, Minnesota Interagency Fire Center, 218/322-2739
Minnesota DNR fire danger map (updated daily)

Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS)

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Foss Lake Update: Firefighters prepared for Red Flag conditions

There was little growth on the Foss Lake Fire yesterday, May 21. Accurate mapping data from handheld and aircraft GPS units resulted in the large increase in acreage. The fire is 1,008 acres and 30 percent contained.

Along the east side of the fire, crews installed fire hose along a quarter mile of saw line. On the west side, they continued constructing saw line northward, nearing Clark Lake. Aircraft assisted ground crews with water drops.

Two crews camped overnight on Clark and Crab Lakes, allowing them early access to the fireline this morning. A third crew will camp on Crab Lake tonight.

Today, on both the east and west sides of the fire, firefighters expect to connect their saw lines as they work toward each other from the north and south. Four engines will be on the Wolf Lake and North Arm Roads today, prepared to respond to new fire starts that could occur. Four Forest Service wilderness rangers are on Crab and Cummings Lakes to ensure public safety for those who might be unaware of the closures. They also continue to work with firefighters who are camping by helping them with wilderness and camping protocols.

Firefighters from the Lake Vermilion Fire Brigade and Morse/Fall Lake Fire Department, with their two fire boats, continue to assist the firefighting efforts and Burntside Lake residents through their presence on the lake. Members of the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Rescue squad continue to make contact, both by boat and road, with property owners on the west end of Burntside Lake.

Red Flag Warning:  Critical fire-weather conditions across northeast Minnesota prompted the National Weather Service to issue a red flag warning today—for gusty winds and very dry conditions—in effect from noon to 7 p.m. The statewide planning/preparedness level was raised yesterday to 5, the highest level.

Weather and Fire Behavior: Weather today will be dominated by high winds this afternoon, again from the south, gusting to 25 mph. Sustained winds will be 10–15 mph. Whitecaps are expected to remain on lakes after 10 p.m. as winds will continue overnight. Fire-behavior analysts say there is potential for a very active fire day (for example, single-tree or group-tree torching, short crown runs, and some rapid fire spread). Smoke might be visible to residents and visitors in surrounding communities. However, smoke does not necessarily mean the fire is growing larger: burning “islands” of unburned forest within the fire perimeter could be burning more actively.

Safety Message: The towns of Ely, Winton, Tower, or Soudan are not threatened. Residents on the west side of Burntside Lake should be aware of changing weather conditions today.

Closures: The Forest Service does not currently recommend BWCAW travel south of Big Moose, Big Rice, and Bootleg Lakes. Just one BWCAW entry point—Crab Lake entry point #4—is officially closed; all other entry points remain open. The following BWCAW portages and lakes/rivers, including campsites, are closed:

  • portage Burntside Lake to Crab Lake (entry point #4)
  • portage from Cummings Lake to Korb Lake; portage from Cummings Lake to Korb River
  • lakes and associated portages: Crab, Boulder, Phantom, Battle, Sprite, Meat, Clark, Glimmer, Hassle, Saca, Little Crab, Korb, Maxine, Barefoot, Little Jig, Silaca, Coxey Pond, Lunetta, Schlamn, Soroll, Glenmore, Western, Blick, Chad, Dugout, and Pine.
  • Pine Creek east of Trout Lake
  • portage from Trout Lake to Pine Lake

Closure signs are posted at normal access points to delineate the closure area. The closure order and map are located at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/4740/.

The Foss Lake Fire is under the management of MNICS Type 2 Team C, Brian Goff, incident commander.

Fire Start Date: May 19, 2016

Resources: 6 crews, 2 helicopters, 2 engines, 1 water tender, 180 total personnel.

Foss Lake Fire Information

Web address: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4740/#

Email: FossLakeFireInfo@gmail.com

Phone: 218-208-4544

Location: US Forest Service office, 1393 Hwy 169, Ely, open 8 a.m.–8 p.m.

 

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High fire danger tomorrow, May 22

In the past 24 hours, Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS) agencies reported four fires for approximately 40 acres burned. Heavier mop up is needed for fires that are now burning into peat. Most agencies are staffing at full capacity. To date, a total of 1,144 fires have been reported for 9,167 Minnesota acres burned.

Today, statewide planning/preparedness was raised to level five (5) and a Red Flag Warning was in effect until 8 p.m. for northern Minnesota and the Superior National Forest. Also, Crow Wing, North Cass, Pine, South Aitkin and South Cass counties were at near-critical fire weather. Burning permit restrictions are in place for much of the northern part of the state.

May 22 Great Lake Fire & Fuels map

May 22 Great Lake Fire & Fuels map

Foss Lake Fire update: MNICS Team C assumed command today at  8 a.m. of the Foss Lake Fire. Yesterday about 45 people attended a community meeting at the Vermilion Community College Theater to ask questions about prescribed burning and the fire. Containment is estimated at 30 percent and 1,008 acres have burned (estimates fluctuated until a ground GPS reading was conducted today).  Fire lines were strengthened along the eastern edge of the fire where a couple of hot spots remain. The towns of Ely, Winton, Tower, or Soudan are not threatened nor are any structures.  However, residents on the west side of Burntside Lake should be aware of changing weather conditions on Sunday.

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Foss Lake Fire update, May 21

 

A Minnesota Incident Command System Type 2 team  took command of the Foss Lake Fire this morning. Today they will work closely with the firefighters and managers who have been fighting the fire the past two days.

Yesterday crews constructed fireline and installed hoselays along the east and west sides of the fire’s south end. A hotshot crew camped on Crab Lake last night and today will work on the north end of the fire. Eventually they will meet up with crews working from the south.

Aircraft assisted ground crews by dropping water and retardant on the fire, particularly on the east side. Retardant has been dropped along the entire length of the east edge to limit fire growth toward Burntside Lake. Local firefighters from the Lake Vermilion Fire Brigade and Morse/Fall Lake Fire Department, using their two fire boats, have been conducting structure-protection assessments of residences on the west end of Burntside Lake and will continue that work today. There are 80 personnel and five aircraft on the fire.

RED FLAG WARNING

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for dry conditions for St. Louis County that is effect until 8 p.m. Saturday, May 21.

Weather and Fire Behavior: Today will be warm and dry again with the temperature reaching the high 70s and the relative humidity dropping as low as 16 percent. Light afternoon winds will be from the southwest with gusts not expected to top 10 mph. Fire-behavior analysts expect fire activity to be light today. However, strong winds are predicted for tomorrow, which could potentially increase fire behavior. With the weather change in mind, crews will prioritize the east side of the fire for their fire-suppression efforts today. The earliest chance of rain over the fire area is Monday.

Safety Message: The towns of Ely, Winton, Tower, or Soudan are not threatened, nor are any structures. Fire managers are planning for Sunday’s strong winds and red-flag-warning conditions.  Residents on the west side of Burntside Lake should be aware of changing weather conditions.

Location: The fire is located 10 miles west of Ely, MN, in St. Louis County, one mile west of the southwestern edge of Burntside Lake, north of Foss Lake, and south of Crab Lake. The fire is burning north within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

Closures: Currently, just one BWCAW entry point is closed: entry point #4 Crab Lake. All other entry points remain open. The following BWCAW portages and lakes, including campsites, are closed:

  • Crab Lake BWCAW entry point and portage from Burntside Lake to Crab Lake
  • Crab, Boulder, Phantom, Battle, Sprite, Meat, Clark, Glimmer, Hassle, Saca, Little Crab, Korb, Maxine, Barefoot, Little Jig, Silaca, Coxey Pond, Lunetta, Schlamn, Soroll, Glenmore, Western, Blick, Chad, Dugout, and Pine Lakes and associated portage trails
  • Cummings Lake portage from Cummings Lake to Korb Lake and Cummings Lake to Korb River
  • Pine Creek East of Trout Lake
  • Pine Lake portage from Trout Lake to Pine Lake

Closure signs will be posted at normal points of access to delineate the closure area. The closure order and map are located on Inciweb.

MNICS Team C, Brian Pisarek, Incident Commander

Foss Lake Fire Information

Web address: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4740/#              Email: FossLakeFireInfo@gmail.com

Phone: 218-208-4544

Location: US Forest Service office, 1393 Hwy 169, Ely, open 8 a.m.–8 p.m.

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Foss Lake Fire update, May 20

(credit: Wildfire Today)

(Wildfire Today map)

Yesterday a number of prescribed burns were successfully conducted by Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS) agencies. At approximately 2 p.m. a 78-acre prescribed burn in the Kawishiwi Ranger District jumped containment lines.

Around 3 p.m. multiple air tankers, helicopters, an air attack and a U.S. Forest Service Beaver plane joined ground crews to fight the fire north of Highway 169 until sunset. At 3:52 p.m. a Superior National Forest spokesperson confirmed the fire had escaped to the north of Tamarack and Foss Lakes, approximately six miles west of Ely, Minnesota. The fire is burning into Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) and timber. A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) went into effect shortly before 5 p.m. yesterday. Media sources say that a large smoky plume prompted numerous 911 calls from the public.

MNICS logoToday the statewide planning/preparedness level is at four but may increase to five if weather conditions remain dry and winds pick up. Rain is not in the northeastern Minnesota forecast until Monday night. Estimates are now 500 acres of timber and wilderness area burned. At 4 p.m., a 30-member MNICS Type 2 team arrived at the Kawishiwi Ranger District.

A 7 p.m. community meeting will be held at the Vermilion Community College Theatre tonight. An Eastern Area Coordinating Group (EACC) Type 2 team from the Northern Rockies Geographic Area (GACC) will arrive in Duluth to aid initial attack support. Hot shot crews already in the state (Lone Peak, San Juan, Bear Town, Bitterroot and Alta) will remain through the weekend. Engines, crews and track vehicles are being mobilized northward. Minnesota DNR divisions are on ready-reserve status. U.S. Superior Forest Service updates are on Inciweb. Drying conditions increase the chance for wildfires. Check the Minnesota DNR  burning permit and restriction map for county-specific information.

Media coverage:

Yesterday: Duluth News Tribune, WDIO TV, Minnesota Public Radio, Timberjay, Northland News Center

Today: Wildfire Today, Ely Echo, Minneapolis Star-Trib, composite of today’s Google alerts for Foss Lake Fire

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PBS ‘Native Report’ airs prescribed burn footage

Native Report Rx Burn May 2016 Season 11 Episode 15According to the U.S. Department of Interior-Indian Affairs, Native Americans have long been practitioners of using prescribed burns to encourage the growth of graze for animals, improve hunting grounds and create trails.

Earlier this month, PBS “Native Report” followed a prescribed burn in the Three Rivers Park District near Plymouth, Minnesota. An interagency fire crew led by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Land and Natural Resources Department conducted the the 55-acre burn to restore grass habitat. (Native Report Season 11 Episode 15 cue at 19:15).

Crew meeting before prescribed burn

Crew meeting before prescribed burn

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Skibo Fire update, May 12

The Skibo Fire is holding at 973 acres with 93 percent containment. The area closure was lifted this morning, May 12, 2016 at 8am. Please use caution while driving. Firefighters are still working and residents will be returning to their property.

Tonight’s update (May 12) will be the last fire information update for the Skibo Fire.  Starting tomorrow, Friday, May 13, 2016 call 218-208-4585 for fire information.

Current Situation:

  • Public and firefighter safety continues to be the priority mission.
  • Trees have been damaged and snags (dead branches) can fall, please stay aware.
  • The rain, while minimum at a tenth of an inch over 24 hours, did help.
  • Today crews will continue to patrol, strengthen and mop up the 21 miles of fire lines.
  • Rehabilitation of the fire line and structure protection continues.
  • Tomorrow morning, a local US Forest Service Type 4 team under the command of John Abts will assume control of the fire.
  • Crews are being reassigned to other fires and to the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center to be available for initial attack. Fire danger will continue to exist across the state until full green-up occurs.

Weather: Today will be cloudy and cool with misty rain forecasted. Highs are expected in the upper 50s along high relative humidity up to 80%. NW winds at 5 – 10 mph this morning, with increase to 10-15 mph and gusts up to 20 mph are forecasted for the early afternoon.

 Description: The Skibo Fire began at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Friday May 6 just north of St. Louis County Highway 110 (Forest Highway 11) and two miles east of Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota. Burned acres are estimated at 973 with segments of the fire stretching nearly eight miles east of Hoyt Lakes to west of Skibo Road (Forest Road 120). The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Resources: Currently there are 183 personnel working on the fire. The Aurora and Palo Fire Department resources are also assigned to the incident.  Crews: 2 Type 1 — Engines: 2 — Excavator: 1 — Helicopters: 1

Cooperating agencies: USDA Forest Service, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Aurora VFD, Hoyt Lakes  FD, Palo VFD, St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department and North St. Louis County Rescue Squad, East Range Police Department, City of Hoyt Lakes, DNR Conservation Officers, Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s Office and USFS Law Enforcement

Closure Information: Please continue to use caution when driving on County Road 110. The closure was listed as of 8 am, Thursday, May 12, 2016. Please drive carefully.

Firewise: Residents interested in protecting your house and property from fire, check out the Minnesota DNR Firewise page: www.dnr.state.mn.us/firewise/livingwithfire/ or stop by the fire information table at the Hoyt Lakes Arena. There are tips, and ideas to create a defensible space around your home.

Fire Information is available at Hoyt Lakes Arena  218-225-2226 (8am-7pm, today). Starting tomorrow, Friday, May 13, 2016 call 218-208-4585 for fire information.

Web address: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4718/
Email: Skibofire@gmail.com


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Minnesota to provide quick strike to Kenora, Canada fire

Minnesota is sending an interagency aviation package of two US Forest Service-contacted Type 1 retardant tankers, a lead plane, and a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources air attack to Kenora Fire 18 this afternoon under cooperative agreements between the provinces of Manitoba and Ontario, the United States and the Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact.

Kenora Fire 18 is over 5,000 hectares (over 12,000 acres) and is exhibiting extreme fire behavior under windy, dry conditions.  The US aircraft will drop retardant to protect two targets.  The first is a high tension powerline with a large right-of-way with grasses. The powerline provides power to Kenora, a city of 15,000 population. The second target is a railroad and high-value homes and cottages near Caddy Lake.

The air tankers will reload at a Minnesota air base (Ely or Bemidji).

Minnesota develops interagency and international quick strike agreements during the off-season when fire danger is low.  The agreement allows single-day operations, coordinated with Canadian and US Customs and Border Protection, to allow expedited crossing of the international border for firefighting aircraft.

Minnesota takes advantage of this arrangement bringing in CL415 water scooping aircraft and Bird Dogs (air attack planes) from both Manitoba and Ontario when needed. This will be the first time an eastern US state has sent retardant tankers to Canada.

 

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Check www.MNICS.org for updates.

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Private aircraft and drone intrude in airspace over wildfire

Wildfires are serious business.  Many people would like to get a closer look at fires or take photos of wildfires.  But, those activities are restricted, and that includes the airspace above and around wildfires.  Intrusions into this airspace can be dangerous.

Over the last few days, there have been at least two intrusions – one was a private airplane, the second an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) also known as a drone.

During fire season, the Minnesota wildfire agencies use aircraft to detect and suppress wildfires. At times of increased fire danger, up to 40 aircraft may be coordinated through the aviation staff at the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center.

When aircraft are needed on a wildfire, oftentimes a temporary flight restriction (TFR) will be placed on the airspace above and around the fire.  This helps ensure the safety of pilots and firefighters.  A TFR prohibits other aircraft from entering the area, so the aircraft involved in suppression and the air attack (air traffic controller in the sky) can operate without interference.

If an unauthorized plane or a drone is spotted over fires, aerial firefighting operations must immediately cease.

Those operating an unapproved aircraft inside a TFR are subject to a variety of penalties such as suspension of pilot certificate and fines.

Wildland fire agencies are working with organizations, such as the “Know Before You Fly” program, to provide UAS users with safe and responsible flight information. Also, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is creating a plan for safe and staged integration of UAS into the National Airspace System.

Wildland fire agencies are working to increase awareness of FAA rules and regulations on drone usage. They are also asking operators not to fly drones within five miles of wildfires or Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR). For more information, contact Matthew.Woodwick@state.mn.us.

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Check www.MNICS.org for updates

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Skibo Fire Update May 10, 2016

Yesterday, good progress was made on the Skibo Fire and containment of 57% was reached. The night crew reported there was little active fire activity overnight.

Several hot spots remain on the fire and the helicopters will continue to make water drops. Crews will continue to strengthen containment lines and mop-up 100 feet toward the center of the fire.  Structure protection is a continued focus.

Public and firefighter safety continues to be the priority mission. No injuries or accidents have been reported.

MNICS Team B, Greg Peterson, incident commander, is managing the fire.  Fire Information is available at Hoyt Lakes Arena, on the Web at Inciweb or at 218-225-2226 (staffed by fire information 8am-7pm). Email: Skibofire@gmail.com

Description: The Skibo Fire began at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Friday May 6 just north of St. Louis County Highway 110 (Forest Highway 11) and two miles east of Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota. Burned acres are estimated at 1,000 with a fire stretching nearly eight miles east of Hoyt Lakes to west of Skibo Road (Forest Road 120). The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Weather: A cool front is moving in today, Average wind speed will be 15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph. Winds will continue from the east, southeast. Trace amounts of rain may fall today. Wednesday’s forecast calls for rain up to a quarter-inch.

Resources: Currently there are 217 personnel from 12 states working the fire. Aurora, Hoyt Lakes, and Palo Fire Department resources are also assigned to the incident.

Cooperating agencies: USDA Forest Service, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Aurora VFD, Hoyt Lakes  FD, Palo VFD, St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department and North St. Louis County Rescue Squad, East Range Police Department, City of Hoyt Lakes, DNR Conservation Officers, Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s Office and USFS Law Enforcemen.

Closure Information: Please continue to use caution when driving on County Road 110. Road closures remain in effect so crews can safely continue their work.  County Roads 565 and 569 are closed. Forest Roads 120, 420, 795, 425 road (Bundle Lake), 128 C road (St Louis River Road Spur C) and part of 113 are closed. The area closure remains in effect to protect the local residents and visitors from fire danger.

Safety: Residents interested in protecting your house and property from fire, check out the Minnesota DNR Firewise page or stop by the fire information table at the Hoyt Lakes Arena. There are tips, and ideas to create a defensible space around your home.

 

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Firefighters securing line on Hut Two fire near Finland

The Hut Two fire 1.2 miles north of Finland, Minnesota stands at 257 acres and is 100 percent contained.  The fire started May 7, 2016.  The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR), the Finland Volunteer Fire Department, and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office responded to the fire and did initial attack.  The Finland VFD provided structural protection.  Thirteen aircraft dropped retardant and water the first day.

Firefighters are continuing mop up and securing the containment line to 100 feet toward the center of the fire. Resources on the fire include firefighters, dozers and engines from the MNDNR, the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs and local contractors.  The Finland Volunteer Fire Department and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office continue to provide support for the fire.

The Midewin Interagency Hotshot Crew is working on the fire.  Midewin IHC is a 20-person wildland firefighting crew from Illinois.  Hotshot crews are made up of highly trained firefighters.

Logistical support for the fire is being provided by local hotels and eating establishments.

No structures have been lost and there have been no injuries or other concerns.

Hut Two Final (2) Map

005

Hut Two Fire initial attack, May 7.

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Skibo Fire Update 5-9-16

Size: approximately 1000 acres           Containment: 21%

Current Situation:

  • Public and firefighter safety continues to be the priority mission.
  • Infrared aerial mapping shows a 21 percent containment of the fire. Good progress was made yesterday, especially on the western perimeter in anticipation of the expected change in wind direction.
  • Reduced wind yesterday helped air navigation and a Chinook helicopter to make continuous bucket drops on ‘hot spots’.
  • Crews patrolling the fire perimeter last night saw less smoke, indicating that suppression efforts continue to be successful.
  • Today ground crews will continue mop up and gridding to establish a firm perimeter and strengthen containment lines up to 100 feet toward the center of the fire. Along with continued work on the western perimeters, crews will focus on the eastern edge of the fire.
  • It is a critical fire weather today with a Red Flag warning issued to the west of the fire.
  • Structure protection continues as a priority.
  • Several families remain under evacuation.

Weather: Winds will pick up today with gusts up to 20 mph this afternoon with relative humidity at 25 percent. Near-critical fire conditions will return today in much of the Iron Range. Winds will shift from the northeast and west to a southeasterly direction making smoke visible from the Hoyt Lakes area.

Description: The Skibo Fire began at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Friday May 6 just north of St. Louis County Highway 110 (Forest Highway 11) and two miles east of Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota. Acres burned are estimated at 1000 with a fire that is strung out nearly eight miles from east of Hoyt Lakes to west of Skibo Road (Forest Road 120). The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Resources: Currently there are 142 personnel from 12 states are working the fire. Aurora, Hoyt Lakes, and Palo Fire Department resources are also assigned to the incident.

Crews: 3 Type 1          Engines: 13                 Dozers: 2

Helicopters: Chinook, T-1 Helicopter/Air Attack

Cooperating agencies: USDA Forest Service, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Aurora VFD, Hoyt Lakes  FD, Palo VFD, St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department and North St. Louis County Rescue Squad, East Range Police Department, City of Hoyt Lakes, DNR Conservation Officers, and USFS Law Enforcement

Closure Information: Please continue to use caution when driving on County Road 110 as firefighters are frequently entering and leaving the roadway. Road closures remain in effect to ensure public and firefighter safety.  County Roads 565 and 569 are closed. Forest Roads 120, 420, 795, and part of 113 are closed. There is an area closure around the fire.

 Safety: Yesterday was a quiet fire day but today conditions could heat up. Fire crews and safety personnel will remain on alert for new flares in the fire. Please be cautious while driving.

MNICS Team B: Greg Peterson, Incident Commander
Fire Information available at Hoyt Lakes Arena
Web address: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4718/
Email: Skibofire@gmail.com

Hoyt Lakes Arena Phone 218-225-2226 (staffed by fire information 8am-7pm)

 

 

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Skibo Fire Update 5-8-16

The Skibo Fire began Friday May 6 just north of St. Louis County Highway 110 (Forest Highway 11), and two miles east of Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota. The approximately 1000 acre fire is strung out several miles from east of Hoyt Lakes to west of Skibo Road (Forest Road 120). The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Skibo Lake Fire Information
MNICS Team B, Greg Peterson, Incident Commander

Fire Information available at Hoyt Lakes Arena

Web address: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4718/
Email:
Skibofire@gmail.com
Hoyt Lakes Arena Phone:
218-225-2226 (staffed by fire information 8am-7pm)

Fire Start Date: May 6, 2016
Size: approximately 1000 acres
Containment: 12%

Current Situation:

  • Yesterday was a successful day of fire suppression with minimal fire growth. At 8:00 pm the incident was delegated to a MNICS Type II Team, a team trained to manage fires of similar complexity.
  • Improved mapping provided a more accurate fire size, mapped at approximately 1000 acres.
  • Today suppression activities will focus on the areas southeast of Allen Junction and near the town of Skibo. Crews will strengthen fire lines, check hot spots, and provide structure protection. Air and ground resources will be used.

Weather: Critically low relative humidity continues. Today will be sunny with temperatures in the high 60s and relative humidity in the low 20s. Winds will be light from the northwest 4-7 mph with gusts to 12 mph in the afternoon.

Resources:

  • Over 300 personnel from 12 states are working the fire. Aurora, Hoyt Lakes, and Palo Fire Department resources are assigned to the incident.
  • Crews: 3 Type 1
  • Engines: 7
  • Dozers: 2
  • Helicopters: 1 Type 1 and 1 Type 3

Cooperating agencies:  USDA Forest Service, MN Department of Natural Resources, Aurora VFD, Hoyt Lakes FD, Palo VFD, St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department and North St. Louis County Rescue Squad, East Range Police Department, City of Hoyt Lakes, DNR Conservation Officers, and USFS Law
Enforcement

Closure Information: Road closures remain in effect to ensure public and firefighter safety. County Roads 565 and 569 are closed. Forest Roads 120, 420, 795, and part of 113 are closed.

Safety: The top priority of MNICS Team B is the safety of the public and of firefighters. Firefighters are frequently entering and leaving roadways, especially near County Road 110. Please be cautious driving.

 

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Minnesota Fire Update, May 8, 2016

Firefighters on the ground and a fleet of firefighting aircraft battled a number of fires in NE Minnesota on Saturday, May 7, 2016.

The largest is the Skibo Fire near Hoyt Lakes.  Starting as 8 to 10 small fires along a four-mile section of railway on Friday, May 6, the Skibo Fire quickly grew to 1003 acres. Aircraft working the fire on Saturday included two Army National Guard Blackhawk Helicopters. A Minnesota Interagency Incident Management Team is assigned to the fire and will be putting in containment lines and working to protect structures today.

The Hut Two Fire near Finland is now 50% contained and 160 acres. Three helicopters, three “Fire Boss” aircraft, two large air tankers dropping retardant and a CL415 water scooping plane from Rhinelander, Wisconsin, helped protect structures and limit the growth of this fire under extreme weather conditions. According to Aaron Mielke with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, “The aircraft really helped keep this fire in check as it was too hot to get ground personnel near it at the onset”.

An air tanker, two water scooping Fire Boss aircraft, two helicopters and a Beaver were used on the Taylor Road Fire near Embarrass that is presently 250 acres and 20% contained.

Firefighters on the Lake Hattie Fire near Lake George were able to contain that blaze at 365 acres.

Saturday was a red flag day over all of North Central and Northern Minnesota with winds exceeding 25 miles per hour and extremely dry fuels due to lack of moisture this spring.

Dry conditions will persist in Northern Minnesota well into next week with only minimal rainfall predicted at this time.

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Skibo Fire update

May 7, 2016 at 1:12 a.m. from Inciweb / Tim Engrav, public information officer, U.S. Forest Service, Superior National Forest

At approximately 3 p.m. on May 6, 2016 a wildfire was reported in Township 58 North, Range 14 West, Section 15 on the Superior National Forest just east of Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota near the Skibo Road area.

Skidoo Fire (Duluth News Tribune map)

Skibo Fire (Duluth News Tribune map)

Eight to 10 fires spotted and torched along the railroad tracks spreading southeast. Multiple fire engines and wildfire suppression aircraft were dispatched and on the scene for hours. High winds and additional haze moving into the arrowhead from Canada has decreased visibility.

Reports indicate that the fire grew more than five miles in length covering 1,000 acres. There are threats to structures and evacuations occurred in the Allen Junction and Skibo junction areas yesterday at approximately 6 p.m.

A U.S. Forest Service Type 3 Incident Management Team (IMT) has managed the fire since Friday afternoon. A Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS) Type 2 IMT has been activated. High temperatures, low humidity and high winds combined to make firefighting difficult on Friday.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for much of north-central to northeastern Minnesota for today.

 

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Smoke from Canada is rolling into northern Minnesota

MPCA map

MPCA map

Smoke from Canadian fires has spread over northeastern Minnesota. As a result, air quality is poor and visibility will be reduced, as much as two miles.  The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued a health advisory through 10 p.m. tomorrow, May 7. Prolonged periods outdoors may lead to smoke inhalation problems in the arrowhead region and the North Shore including Duluth, Ely, Grand Marais, Hibbing, International Falls and Eveleth. Check you area’s air quality index and please use extreme caution to not cause fires.

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