Windy conditions as BWCA fire burns on

- The Foss Lake Wildfire near Ely, Minnesota continues to burn as National Weather Service officials issue a Red Flag Warning for dry and windy conditions.

“[Saturday], even though it was hot and dry, which makes for, around here they call it 'spicier' fire conditions, adding the wind to it, that makes it even greater fire activity,” said Gus Smith District Ranger of the Kawishiwi Ranger District of the Superior National Forest.

The wildfire started on the evening of May 19 about ten miles southwest of Ely from an escaped prescribed burn, according to the Minnesota Incident Command System. The fire now encompasses 1,008 acres and is about 30 percent contained.

On Sunday, the west side of the fire was active between Crab and Clark lakes and also on the southeast side of Clark Lake. Six fire crews, two helicopters, two engines, and one water tender are being used to combat the blaze, totaling 180 personnel in all.

According to the Red Flag Warning, the towns of Ely, Winton, Tower and Soudan are not threatened, but residents on the west side of Burntside Lake should be aware of changing weather conditions.

“The closest structures to the fire, I’m going to estimate are about a mile away, so they’re close, but they’re in the wrong direction of the wind we have,” said Smith.

At Boundary Waters Canoe Area, the Crab Lake entry point #4 is the only opening officially closed. Forest officials are advising people not to travel south of Big Moose, Big Rice, and Bootleg Lakes.

While the blaze continues, fire officials said the upcoming forecast looks hopeful. 

"If we get a good wet rain, half inch to inch every couple weeks, or something every couple weeks, we really keep the fire season from becoming a big boom," said Smith.

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