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Boundary Waters fire expected to spread further today

The Pagami Creek fire continues to march south and east in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness today. Extremely dry conditions, high temperatures, low humidity and winds that are expected to gust up to 20 mph out of the northwest this after...

The Pagami Creek fire continues to march south and east in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness today.

Extremely dry conditions, high temperatures, low humidity and winds that are expected to gust up to 20 mph out of the northwest this afternoon all have the potential to help the fire spread today, according to Mark Van Every, a district ranger for the Lake Superior Forest.

This morning brought breezes out of the west at 5 to 9 mph, but those are predicted to build throughout the day.

The fire has so far burned across more than 3,200 acres.

Firefighters took action to keep the fire from spreading to the north and west, where it could have threatened private property in the Fernberg corridor.

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However, Van Every said crews are allowing the fire to run its course to the south and east for now, monitoring the progress of flames. The fire was first detected Aug. 18 and was likely caused by a lightning strike.

"As with other fires, when this fire was detected, we evaluated the opportunity for fire to play its natural role in the wilderness," said Van Every. "We made the decision to monitor it and contain it to keep it from escaping the wilderness."

To ensure visitors remain safe, the Forest Service has temporarily halted all access to the BWCAW through Lake One. People with prior permits to enter through the lake are being redirected to other entry points.

Crews also are asking visitors to move off Lakes Two and Three, all the way east to Hudson Lake. Several portages also have been temporarily closed.

"The fire is not an imminent threat to any visitors right now, but we want to keep ahead of it," Van Every said.

About 65 people are now working the fire, monitoring its progress and sweeping out to intercept and warn visitors to the area.

The Duluth News Tribune will continue to update readers on the status of this fire.

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