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Boreal Community Media

Superior National Forest Wildfire Update: August 22, 2021

Aug 22, 2021 12:53PM ● By Editor

Superior National Forest Wildfire Update: August 22, 2021

Public Meeting: Today we will be having an outdoor public meeting for the John Ek and Whelp Fires at the Schaap Community Center on the Gunflint Trail at 6 pm.  

John Ek Fire: The John Ek Fire was successfully kept in its current footprint yesterday with cooler temperatures and suppression activities by aircraft. The fire is estimated at 727-acres due to more accurate mapping from aerial flights. The lightning-strike fire is located 2.5 miles south of Little Saganaga Lake and extends from John Ek Lake to the SE corner of Elton Lake. Beaver float planes flew the Wilderness to identify campers and notify them of the current closure. Today crews and float planes will be used to sweep the area of visitors. Ground suppression activities are still not possible due to difficult access, limited aviation resources, and firefighter safety concerns. Fire-suppressing aircraft continue to drop water on the fire to try to limit its spread. A MNICS Type 3 team will assume command of the John Ek and Whelp fires beginning on Monday, August 23.  

Whelp Fire: This fire continues to creep and smolder in the duff without moving outside of its current footprint of 50-acres. The Whelp Fire is a lightning-caused fire located five miles west of Sawbill Lake.

A helitack crew will begin improving a nearby helispot today to improve access. No firefighting crews have been sent in due to difficult access, limited aircraft resources, and safety concerns. Fire-suppressing aircraft continue to drop water on this fire to try and limit its spread.  


Closure Update: A closure is in place for the entire Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, effective August 21, 2021, due to active and increasing fire activity, extreme drought, and limited resources. The closure includes all lands, waters, trails, portages, campsites, canoe routes, and entry points in the Wilderness; and all overnight paddle, day use, and motorized day use. The Forest has notified permit holders and outfitters and is cancelling permits today through August 27. Permit holders will be fully reimbursed. This is not an emergency evacuation. Wilderness rangers are sweeping the Wilderness in a safe and orderly way and we ask that visitors leave the Wilderness upon contact with a ranger. The Forest will reopen portions of the Wilderness and/or some uses when it is safe. For details on closure areas, visit the Superior National Forest webpage. With continued fires and a shortage of firefighting resources, these closures allow firefighters to focus on existing fires or new starts without worrying about public safety.

Evacuations: There are no mandatory evacuations in Cook County as of noon today. Homeowners in Cook County should sign up for the emergency alert system CodeRED at

Fire Restrictions: The Superior National Forest is not allowing campfires within the Forest boundary on National Forest lands, including the BWCAW. Propane devices with an on/off switch are permitted, including lanterns, stoves, and firepits. Please see Fire Restrictions Order and our Campfire Restrictions FAQ for more information. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has various fire restrictions throughout the state. The burning restrictions reflect on-the-ground conditions and wildland fire response capacity as assessed on a county-by-county basis. Please see their website for additional details:

Information for John Ek and Whelp Forest Fires: Please call 218-209-2633 or email [email protected]. Information online at:, the Superior NF website: or the Forest’s Facebook page:

Greenwood Fire Update/Map for August 22, 2021 and Community Meeting Announcement for August 23, 2021

A PUBLIC MEETING will be held Monday, August 23, 2021  at 6:00 p.m. for the Greenwood Fire, Superior National Forest fires and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness closure with presentations from the Forest Service, Sheriff, and the Incident Command Team.  It will be held at the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center and will be broadcast live on the Superior National Forest Facebook page. 

Yesterday and Last Night:  With light winds and cool temperatures the fire remained in the same footprint.  Acreage reduced to 8,862 based on infrared mapping. Day and night crews made good progress on fireline construction on the southern edge, at the fire’s base.  Operations scouted new areas to hold the fire to the west and north of Highway 2 after Friday’s 4-mile run.  Engine crews continued structure-protection measures on homes within the Sand Lake and Highway 2 corridor, McDougal Lake and in the areas to the north where there was fire growth.   

Today and Tonight:  Additional crews, engines and equipment are arriving to assist in fire suppression and structure protection.  Operations will continue assessing additional structures, and recreation sites threatened by fire growth.    


WEATHER/FIRE BEHAVIOR:  Temperatures are 20 degrees colder with patchy fog this morning, slowing fire activity.  Fire growth is expected primarily along the northern edge in the surface ground fuels and the potential for spotting is reduced.     

SAFETY & EVACUATIONS:  Lake County Sheriff’s office evacuation orders are in effect for McDougal Lake, Sand Lake, the Highway 2 corridor, and north of Highway 1 in the vicinity of East and West Chub lakes, Jackpot, and Slate Lake.  For information regarding evacuations contact Lake County Emergency Management at 773-844-6449.  You can sign up for emergency text alerts and calls from Lake County here:   An interactive evacuation map for Lake County is at: A Red Cross shelter is set up at the Finland Community Center for evacuees and their small pets.  Call (425) 677-5776 for more information.   


  • Hwy 2 is closed from Forest Hwy 11 to Hwy 1. Hwy 1 is closed from New Tomahawk Rd to Lankinen Rd.  

  • The Greenwood Fire forest closure order will be expanded to protect public health and safety due to the growth of the fire.  It extends across areas within the Kawishiwi, Laurentian, and Tofte Ranger Districts and a small portion of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  Yesterday, the forest decided to close the entire Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness due to wildfire activity elsewhere in the BWCAW and to ensure safety of visitors.  To see the Forest order and other alerts go to:

  • A Temporary Flight Restriction for aircraft is in place over the fire area. 

FIRE RESTRICTIONS: Fire restrictions are in place for the Superior National Forest and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for areas within state jurisdiction Cook and Lake Counties and northern St. Louis County.  Superior National Forest:  Fire Restrictions Order and our Campfire Restrictions See our FAQ for more information.  Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: MN DNR Wildland Fire Information.

SUMMARY:  The Greenwood Fire was detected on August 15, 2021, around 3 p.m. on the Laurentian Ranger District.  The fire is near Greenwood Lake and approximately 15 miles southwest of Isabella.  The objective of fire management is full suppression using ground resources, heavy equipment, and aircraft.  The fire is threatening cabins, homes, and recreational sites.  The fire was caused by lightning.   

For additional information please contact the Greenwood Fire public information line: (218( 499-9441 or email [email protected].

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