Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pagami Creek Fire MONITORING PHASE September 8th Update

Pagami Creek Fire
                                                           For Immediate Release
                       September 8, 2011

Contact: Fire Information 218-365-3177

Pagami Creek Fire Transitions to Monitoring Phase

Ely, MN… The burn out operation conducted on the Pagami Creek Fire this past weekend was one part of the long term plan for managing the fire within the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness. The Interagency Incident Management Team was tasked with developing a short term strategy for reducing the threat of the Pagami Creek Fire to the Fernberg Corridor and residents living there. With the burn out completed it might be tempting to believe that the tactical fire operations are essentially complete, but firefighters are still on the ground working hard to implement the plan.

Firefighters at this stage of a fire are exposed to many risks. Active fire is still burning in the interior and pockets of unburned fuel can ignite rapidly throwing embers that can compromise the fire line. Patrolling the fire line means walking through areas where burned trees, also called snags, may fall at any time. Warmer temperatures this week will mean drier fuels and a greater risk of dehydration. Fighting fire from canoes means greater exposure to risks.

The number of firefighters working on the Pagami Creek Fire will begin to decrease over the next few days. While the numbers may decrease, the monitoring of the fire will not. The next phase of the long term management plan is to carefully watch the southern portion of the fire as it burns within the Wilderness. Wildfires provide many benefits to the ecosystem, including the natural creation of fuel breaks. As the Pagami Creek Fire moves south it may eventually reach the older burned areas of the Turtle and Gabbro fires. When resource managers are able to use fuel breaks created by earlier fires the need to expose firefighters to risk is reduced.

Today, crews on the Pagami Creek Fire will be focused on securing the fire line and identifying hazards that could make their work more dangerous. Hand firing may be used to burn out pockets of un-burned fuels close to the fire line. Ely area residents and visitors should expect to see and smell smoke from both the Pagami Creek Fire and several small fires that were detected in the past few days.  Paddlers in the Lakes One and Two area may continue to see aircraft and hear pumps running as the burn out operation transitions into mop up and monitoring. Public Safety crews will be on the lakes to talk with paddlers and escort them across the portages between Lakes One and Two.  

Paddlers are asked to maintain a safe distance from the shores affected by the fire. Trees with root systems damaged by the fire might fall at any time. Everyone is encouraged to remember that this area is particularly dry and to be careful with fire.

For additional information please call (218) 365-3177 or visit

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