Two fires that prompted BWCA closures continue to burn

The wildfires that caused the first closures of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in 45 years continue to burn.

Sunday night, forestry officials held a community meeting to discuss the John Ek and Welp fires, both of which have been burning for a week. 

U.S. Forestry officials explained – last Sunday - lightning strikes ignited both the smaller Welp fire and the John Ek fire, which grew significantly over the weekend and is now burning nearly 800 acres, in the BWCA. 

Because of the remote locations of the fires, crews are not able to access fires from the ground and are instead utilizing airdrops.

"I’ve just been watching what’s been going on and making sure we understand what’s coming up," said John Fredrickson a resident of Cook County. 

Meanwhile wilderness crews are evacuating visitors still in the BWCA, which will be closed until at least Friday.

Officials say they will send evacuation orders to homeowners if necessary, but right now that does not seem likely. 

"I live with 12 sled dogs and wanted to get as much information as possible about possible evacuations," said another Cook County resident Maria Gaffnay.

The dry conditions remain a concern for containing the fires.

"Wind is going to be the driver of where this thing goes because all the fuels are ready to burn," said U.S. Forestry District Manager Ellen Bogardrs-Szymaniak. "Yes there’s potential it could come out of the wilderness and the potential is low and we know that. but we need to reassure folks what’s going on."

Rain is possible later in the week, but fire officials say they worry it won't be enough.