Heroes of the Cavity Lake Fire


     The Cavity Lake Fire is 87% contained thanks to a great number of people.  It would be impossible to list everyone involved in this great task, just as impossible as it sounds to be able to put out a raging wildfire in a remote area of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness affected by the 1999 Blowdown.  If you would have seen the great billows of smoke that seemed to stretch for miles along the Gunflint Trail, felt the dry heat and winds that kept the flames burning hot, or experienced ash falling from the sky then maybe you could begin to understand what a victory has been won.  In every victory there is at least one hero but in a battle this large there are many. 

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    When the Cavity Lake Fire started on July 14th immediate action was taken to put it out.  The USFS knew the area in which it started was within the Blowdown Area and since 1999 officials have worried about a fire of catastrophic proportions.  There have been countless studies and models of what would happen if a fire started in a region of the blowdown. Everyone knew the possibility for a large forest fire existed, as it always does in a forested region.  Fire behavior is unpredictable, just as unpredictable as the weather in Minnesota, especially during a dry summer.  Against all of these odds the heroes prevailed and not one life or structure was lost.


      The heroes were everywhere during the Cavity Lake Fire.  The firefighters on the ground who worked with chainsaws, explosives and hose lays.  The flight crews who assisted the pilots as they flew countless flights above the flames.  The management teams who made sure the crews were fed, clothed, and housed.  The local businesses who took care of the needs of the personnel be it septic, laundry, water, ice, or propane.  Law enforcement, the US Forest Service, the GTVFD, the DNR, Canadian Crews, concerned citizens, the media, neighbors, friends, and family.  These are a few of the heroes of the Cavity Lake Fire.     


      The cost of the battle will no doubt reach 10 million dollars and the number of acres lost will probably remain at 31,830.  As Dennis Neitzke, Gunflint District Ranger, said at this morning’s briefing, "The Cavity Lake Fire is our history, we need to tell the story now and keep it alive for future generations."  The Cavity Lake Fire will be a part of many people;  those who were here when it started, who read about it, who had traveled the area prior to the fire, watched it on television, those who fought it, and those who will travel this area in the future.  In the telling of history be sure to remember the heroes and be thankful for everyone who helped contain the Cavity Lake Fire.