Continued very dry weather across the Northland has spurred a few wildfires, including a blaze that has burned across 1,635 acres inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Superior National Forest officials Tuesday morning said lightning on Monday started a wildfire northwest of Bezhik Lake in the LaCroix Ranger District and reported the estimated size to be approximately 10 acres.
The fire started getting more active Tuesday afternoon and has been pushing to the north, according to a later report from the Superior National Forest Service. A south wind has pushed the fire towards Moose Loop Road south of the Echo Trail.
The fire is not near any campsites or canoe routes and no travel restrictions are in place.
Due to the remote location and late observation time on Monday, no effort was made to extinguish the fire initially. Crews were added Tuesday, including a 20-person Lolo Hotshot Crew, a 10-person module from the Cherokee Hotshot Crew and Wildland Engines from several other forests.
An air attack plane has been directing water drops by FireBoss airplanes along the north side of the fire. The fire is in a challenging location for firefighter access, according to the Superior National Forest report.
Much of the Northland has rapidly moved into near-drought conditions with little or no rain so far in May. Warm days with very low humidity levels allow fires to grow quickly.
The National Weather Service Tuesday morning issued a near-critical fire weather advisory for northern St. Louis and Koochiching counties.
After being above normal for precipitation as recently as April, Duluth is 1.73 inches shy of normal rainfall for May. The last time Duluth saw more than a trace of rain was on April 26, when just over a half-inch fell.
Spring is usually Minnesota’s busiest wildfire season. So far this year, Minnesota has seen 1,065 wildfires that have burned across 32,910 acres, according to the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in Grand Rapids.
Rain is forecast for most of the area in coming days, however, which should help snuff the fire danger. The National Weather Service in Duluth is forecasting a chance of rain every day through Sunday with significant rain possible Wednesday night and Thursday.
This story was updated at 7 p.m. May 18 with current information from Superior National Forest officials. It was originally posted at 11:04 a.m. May 18.