Fire and Restrictions

     Windy dry conditions in the Boundary Waters has prompted the USFS to initiate a Level II Fire Ban in the wilderness.  This means no campfires will be allowed at any time in the Boundary Waters.  The BWCA was previously in a Level I Fire Ban where fires were permitted from 7PM until Midnight but conditions have not improved prompting officials to implement the complete fire ban.

     There was a small rain shower the other night but unfortunately it was accompanied by lightning.  This lightning struck a tree near Two Island Lake on Thursday, August 2nd and started a fire.  Crews quickly responded and dispatched ground units as well as a helicopter and beaver.  Information about the fire was sketchy but it seemed to be controlled and was estimated at around an acre in size.

     The fear of fire can be felt and probably even seen on my face.  Memories of the Ham Lake Fire are fresh in my mind and hot sunny days are not as welcome as they once were.  The wind blowing may feel refreshing but to me it is just a big fan drying the forest out quicker than normal.  I’m on edge, waiting for another big one to come and I can’t seem to relax.  July 14th came and went; that was the start of the Cavity Lake Fire last year.  July 30 came and went; that was the start of the Alpine Lake FIre two years ago. August 10th is just around the corner; the start of the Sag Fire in 1995. 

     I’m walking around like a zombie on a mission sniffing the air and searching the sky for smoke. I’m afriad to go to town because that’s where I was when both the Ham Lake Fire started and the Alpine Lake Fire started.  On Thursday when in town I almost fainted when I heard the words, "Did you hear about the fire?" 

     I watch the forecast and cringe when I see sun and wind.  "How close did the fire get?"  A common question we have heard this summer and the answer, "Too close."  All I have to do is walk down my driveway to see the scorched trees just beyond the reach of the sprinklers or walk to the north side of our property where our 4 staff cabins once stood.  I look south or north from my dock and see burned earth, drive down Sag Lake Trail and not see cabins and businesses that were once there and travel the Gunflint Trail where open space occupies the land where 3 cabins once stood in a row. 

      The Ham Lake Fire got too close, so close it occupies a permanent space in my brain.   My kids got these funky rubber bracelets when we visited the Ranger Station in town, you know the ones, everyone sells them at the checkout counter, they usually have a message on them.  The message on the bracelets says, "Smokey’s Friend."  I received a pair of sterling silver earrings from a guest who was a loyal blog reader during the fire, they have the word "Hope" on them.  I wear the bracelets like Wonder Woman’s bullet deflectors hoping they will deflect any future fires.  I touch my earrings and hope.  I hope for rain and that the nightmares of fire will end.