Rain, higher humidity levels and cooler temperatures in the forecast for the next several days should help crews battle a wildfire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness that was reported at 950 acres as of Wednesday morning.
The Bezhik Lake fire apparently started with a lighting strike on Monday when it was reported at 10 acres in size. Dry, windy conditions pushed the fire Tuesday when Superior National Forest officials estimated the size at 1,650 acres. They later revised that estimate.
The fire is located about 16 miles north of Tower and is not near any campsites or canoe routes. No travel restrictions are in place, and no evacuations have been ordered. The fire did spread out of the BWCAW and reached the southwest edge of the Moose Loop Forest Road (Forest Road 464). Firefighters will be looking to work on the fire edge in that area and continue structure protection efforts on the private property at the south end of the Moose Loop Road.
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 Fire Boss water bombers 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 had rapidly moved into near-drought conditions with little or no rain so far in May. Warm, windy days with very low humidity levels allow fires to grow quickly. But rain already was falling Wednesday morning across parts of the region with some rain forecast over the next six days in a row.
After being above normal for precipitation as recently as April, Duluth is 1.73 inches shy of normal rainfall for May. Until Wednesday morning, 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.