Campfire restrictions have been lifted in the Boundary Waters. Now instead of allowing campfires from 7pm until Midnight you can have a campfire anytime. We’ve received almost four inches of rain in June and we aren’t even one week into the month yet. With this significant rainfall the fire danger in the forest is back down to low.
There is always a chance for a forest fire so use caution when out in the woods. Smoke from large fires can be seen from a very long distance away but if you can see ash or embers then it is nearby. Be prepared to alter your travel plans to remain a safe distance from the fire and choose a route that includes larger bodies of water. Keep an eye on the wind to determine which direction the fire is moving and try to get upwind of it. Fire can change directions quickly and sparks and embers can travel as far as a mile in front of the fire and start new spot fires so be aware of your surroundings.
If you find yourself in the path of a fire then be sure to remain calm. The best thing to do is to put a lifevest on and paddle into the middle of the lake. Fires can create their own wind so be prepared for gusts and waves. If the fire is upon you then get into the water and get underneath an overturned canoe. This will provide you some protection from the heat as well as from inhaling too much smoke.
Once a fire burns through you may have the opportunity to travel to safety once again. Fire activity is usually less in the evening and mornings when humidity is higher. When traveling in a burned area be sure to watch for hot embers or trees that have been burnt.
The chance of being hurt by a fire in the Boundary Waters or Quetico Park is way less than experiencing a car accident elsewhere. I’ve never worried about encountering a fire while out in the woods and I hope none of you will ever find yourself in the midst of a forest fire. But if you do I hope you will remember these suggestions and remain safe.