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Superior National Forest - John Ek and Whelp wildfires update - September 7, 2021

Sep 07, 2021 09:02AM ● By Editor
Aerial view of the John Ek fire on Sunday.  Photo: Superior National Forest

From Superior National Forest - September 7, 2021

JOHN EK FIRE (1,357 acres, 0% contained): Little fire growth has occurred on the John Ek Fire the last few days. Crews have completed contingency lines on three sides of the fire (on the north side from Gabimichigami Lake to Tuscarora Lake; on the east side from Little Saganaga Lake to Dent Lake; and on the west side from Little Saganaga Lake to Pan Lake.) Should the fire become active again, these contingency lines will be used as necessary, including conducting burnouts along them and/or turning on sprinkler systems adjacent to those lines. Structure protection crews are still doing Firewise work (assessing structures, removing debris and thinning fuels near homes) on the south side of the Gunflint Trail, from Poplar Lake to Round Lake and Tuscarora Lodge. 

WHELP FIRE (50 acres, 0% contained): The Whelp Fire is five miles northwest of Sawbill Lake and southeast of the John Ek Fire.On Sunday, crews completed contingency line along the south side of the fire from Phoebe Lake to Sawbill Campground. Fire managers continue to use air resources to monitor the fire. 

 WEATHER and FIRE BEHAVIOR: Showers and thunderstorms are expected across the fire area Tuesday, bringing breezy, cool and moist conditions. Temperatures will be 62-67 with northwest winds around 15 mph, gusting to 35 mph. Minimum relative humidity will be 57-62%. Low fire spread is expected, although it continues to creep and smolder in deep duff and heavy fuels. 

SAFETY & EVACUATIONS:  On September 2, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office changed the evacuation status of the Upper Gunflint Trail, from the south side of Loon Lake west to the end of the Gunflint trail, back to “Ready” status. There are currently no mandatory evacuations in Cook County. However, the public should continue to monitor the status of the fires as conditions can change quickly. Homeowners in Cook County can sign up for the emergency alert system CodeRED at


  • Superior National Forest lands and roads along the upper portion of the Gunflint Trail are closed due to fires in the vicinity. The closure includes all forest lands and roads along Cook County 12/Gunflint Trail beginning at the Cook County 92 intersection to the end of the Gunflint Trail. Trails End and Iron Lake campgrounds are in the closure area. 
  • Most of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness closure has been lifted, with the exception of the John Ek/Whelp fire closures and entry points associated with the Greenwood Fire and Gunflint Trail Closure. John Ek/Whelp closure area includes the following entry points: Seagull Lake Entry Point #54/#54A/L, Saganaga Lake Entry Point #55/#55A/J, Missing Link Lake EP #51, Brant Lake Entry Point #52, Cross Bay Lake Entry Point #50, Kekekabic Trail Entry Point #56 and #74, Skipper and Portage Lakes Entry Point #49, Kawishiwi Lake Entry Point #37, ​Magnetic Lake EP #57, Larch Creek EP #80. Due to upper Gunflint Trail closure South Lake EP #58 is closed. Due to the Greenwood Fire closure, the following are closed: Island River EP #34, Isabella Lake EP #35, Bog Lake EP #67, Little Isabella River #75, Snake River EP #84, Pow Wow Trail EP #86, and Hog Creek #36.
  • Across Superior National Forest, several closure orders are in effect due to wildfires, to protect public health and safety.  To see all the Forest closure orders and other alerts go to:
  • A temporary flight restriction for aircraft is in place over the fire areas.  
FIRE RESTRICTIONS: Fire restrictions are in place for the Superior National Forest, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for areas within state jurisdiction, as well as Cook, Lake, and St. Louis counties. See Superior National Forest  Fire Restrictions Order, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: MN DNR Wildland Fire Information and our Campfire Restrictions FAQ for more information.

Public Information Line: 218-209-2633 | Email[email protected]

John Ek Fire and Whelp Fire Inciweb:

Greenwood Fire Information:  218-499-9441 | All other fires on the Superior National Forest: 218-214-7844

Facebook: Superior National Forest

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