Burning in the BWCA

     I did receive confirmation from a reliable source that the Ham Lake Fire has been active on Saganaga Lake in both Minnesota and Canada .  The fire is reported to have been burning actively on Horseshoe Island , Connor’s Island, Red Pine Island, the island to the north of Red Pine  and possibly on Camper’s Island .  A number of campsites and one structure have been burned by the fire on Saganaga.

     The reports about evacuating people from Saganaga appear to be true as well as the rumor about people staying behind.   Seven Americans were evacuated on Sunday and it sounds like Irv Benson and the folks at Sagonto remained to help set up sprinklers and try to save properties.  The cloud cover, high humidity and wind from the north hopefully helped fire crews to keep the fire from spreading farther.  I hope to get out and see what is happening first hand tomorrow.  

      The Type I Team in charge of the Ham Lake Fire is getting more and more confident each day.  More of the perimeter of the fire is getting secured each day with 50% of the U.S. perimeter secured and 20% of the overall fire contained.  The threat to private property is less and less each day.  The progress being made is great but it is scary to see our support crews leaving the area.  We sure hope we won’t need to call them back.  

     Power has been restored at Voyageur, now if they will just let us return home.  We’re so grateful to have a home to return to as many people have lost theirs, 61 residences so far and a total of 133 structures.  It’s such a tragedy to see these places destroyed by fire knowing the people and their losses make it so much harder.  The total acres burned are 74,814 with 36,433 in the U.S. and 38,371 in Canada. 

     In case you didn’t know it, all entry points into the Boundary Waters via the Gunflint Trail have been closed through the 19th of May.  In addition to the entry points all campgrounds and hiking trails have been closed as well as most boat landings and forest areas accessed from the Gunflint Trail.  For a complete list of closures you can visit this website.  It definitely isn’t business as usual on the Gunflint Trail. 

     What does this mean to Voyageur and the other businesses on the Gunflint Trail?  I don’t know, I haven’t had time to think about it.  We’ve been too busy with the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department to even think about it.  We are grateful to have Marilyn in Grand Marais answering phone calls and taking care of e-mail.  

     The good thing about the Ham Lake Fire is very little of the Boundary Waters has burned.  This means awesome canoe trips into the wilderness for our guests.  It also means an awesome adventure up to the end of the Gunflint Trail to get a first hand view at forest fire.  We do not know when the USFS will open the entry points to the BWCA or when the Gunflint Trail itself will be safe for travel, estimated containment date is the 20th of May.  We do know we want to see you at Voyageur this summer.  If it isn’t in May or June then we hope you will visit us later in the summer or fall.  

     The forecast is calling for rain and we hope the weather predictors are right.  We would be very happy to be confident the Ham Lake Fire is contained.  Please keep the Gunflint Trail in your thoughts and your prayers.