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