US Forest Service Provides Update on John Ek, Whelp Fires in BWCA

John Ek Fire

(US Forest Service)

DULUTH, Minn. – On Monday, the US Forest Service provided updates on the status of the John Ek and Whelp fires in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

According to officials, no fire-fighting crews have been sent directly to the fires due to difficult access, limited aircraft resources, and safety concerns.

Instead, crews will focus on fuels mitigation projects in the Sawbill Lake area today.

John Ek Fire: The John Ek fire held its current footprint yesterday of an estimated 800 acres with cooler air temperatures over the area. The fire is 2.5 miles south of Little Saganaga Lake and extends from John Ek Lake to the SE corner of Elton  Lake.

Whelp Fire: The Whelp Fire is a lightning-caused fire located five miles northwest of Sawbill Lake, and continues to creep and smolder in the deep duff without moving outside of its current footprint of an estimated 50 acres.

Closure Update: A closure is in place for the entire Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, effective August 21, 2021, due to active and increasing fire activity, extreme drought, and limited resources. The closure includes all lands, waters, trails, portages, campsite, canoe routes, and Wilderness entry points in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The Forest has notified permit holders and outfitters and is canceling permits from August 21 through August 27. Permit holders will be fully reimbursed. At this time, all overnight paddle, day use, and motorized day use are canceled. The Forest will reopen portions of the Wilderness and some uses when it is safe.

Fire Restrictions: Due to continued long-term drought conditions and limited firefighting resources, the Superior  National Forest is not allowing campfires within the Forest boundary on National Forest lands, including the BWCAW. Propane devices with an on/off switch are permitted, including lanterns, stoves, and firepits.

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