Fire ban on; Forest Service battling Spice Lake Fire near Knife Lake
Due to continued dry conditions and worsening wildfire danger conditions, the Forest Service has issued an Emergency Forest Order - effective June 14 - restricting the igniting, building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire or campfire, including charcoal grills and barbeques, coal, and wood burning stoves to reduce the likelihood of a wildfire on the Superior National Forest, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; St. Louis, Cook, Carlton, and Lake Counties; and the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa are also enacting campfire restrictions.
The 30-acre Spice Lake fire is near Knife Lake, about 10 miles west of the Gunflint Trail. The cause of the fire has not been determined.
Late in the afternoon on June 13, a wildfire was detected between Spice Lake and Ogishkemuncie Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) on the Gunflint Ranger District of the Superior National Forest. Spice Lake is located east of Knife and Kekekabic Lakes and southwest of Seagull Lake and approximately 10 miles west of the Gunflint Trail. The cause of the fire has not been determined.
An aircraft flight was taken over the fire for a size up of the fire’s activity and location. Active and moderate fire activity was witnessed in a mixed Boreal forest with aspen, pine, and balsam fir tree species. There is also evidence of Spruce Budworm affected trees which means dead down and standing trees which can cause active fire behavior. Fire personnel also looked for public canoe groups on the area lakes and made contact with several groups on Ogishkemuncie Lake and to ensure public safety directed them off the lake to the east.
Forest Service personnel have dispersed campers in the area of the fire after landing on the lake with a USFS Beaver floatplane. Canoeists on Kekekabic Lake were also notified.
Campfires are allowed ONLY within Forest Service provided campfire structures (fire rings) at designated recreation sites, which include fee campgrounds with campfire structures designed/ installed by the Forest Service as well as designated campfire structures at U.S. Forest Service permitted Resorts, Recreation Residences, or Organizational Camps. A list of designated recreation sites, Resorts, Recreation Residences, or Organizational Camps where campfires are allowed, as shown on Exhibit A of the Forest Order, and a map of the area, as shown on Exhibit B of the Forest Order, available on the Superior National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/superior
The BWCA designated campsites, no-fee rustic campgrounds, or dispersed/ backcountry campsites are under full restriction and are NOT exempt from this order.
Gas or propane cook stoves are allowed throughout the Superior National Forest and are a safer option than campfires. These restrictions will continue until further notice.
The potential for wildfire is high across all ownerships in Northern Minnesota at this time. It is extremely important that people area careful with campfires in areas where they are allowed. If you are in a location where you can have a campfire, consider if the conditions are right and if you need a fire. Be sure to keep your campfire small and put it out cold to the touch whenever you leave it. All campfires must be attended all times.
For additional information regarding fire-related and/or forest closures and updates:
- see the Superior National Forest website www.fs.usda.gov/superior,
- the MN Department of Natural Resources https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/firerating_restrictions.html,
- the Minnesota Incident Command System website at www.mnics.org
- SNF Forest Orders are available here: https://bit.ly/SNFforestorders
- An advisory has been issued for Eastern Minnesota along with Wisconsin and Michigan for elevated fire risk effective Monday the 12th of June - https://www.predictiveservices.nifc.gov/fuels_fire-danger/fuels_fire-danger.htm