‘Tinderbox Conditions’ Fuel Fire in Superior National Forest
ISABELLA -- A Superior National Forest official says the ongoing drought has created `tinderbox conditions'' as firefighters continue to battle wildfires in the area.
Crews are taking advantage of the break in hot weather to put down fire breaks and other defenses, in particular at the northeast edge of the fire to protect the town of Isabella, but also in other areas.
Incident commander Brian Pisarek says
"Planning to get a lot of stuff done, and hopefully be ready for the winds that are gonna come on Monday."
Pisarek says weather effects if crews get fire breaks in place:
"One of our tactics is to remove the fuel in front of the fire on the east side, and this rain of course inhibits us from doing that -- so we're kind of, in our action, you would think rain would be the best thing you could get, but timing of the rain is also critical to our operation."
The fires have already burned more than 25,000 acres and 12 seasonal homes
or cabins have been lost.
Firefighters are getting ready for the long haul, battling stubborn wildfires in drought-parched northeastern Minnesota -- and Governor Tim Walz asked during a Thursday afternoon Zoom briefing:
"How do we think about maintaining and keeping this pace up, when the fatigue is going to be something else?"
Nick Petrack, fire management officer with Superior National Forest, says for safety reasons they closely monitor personnel to make sure they're getting rest:
"We're expecting this to go 'til snowfall, so we're trying to just pace ourselves in order to, let's just call it, finish the marathon."
Senator Amy Klobuchar at a Thursday afternoon briefing on the northeast Minnesota wildfires asked Superior National Forest officials how soon they'll be able to re-open the B-W-C-A Wilderness. Supervisor Connie Cummins says she evaluates it every day and knows the impact of the closure:
"Takes two to three days to evacuate areas of the Boundary Waters.... You know, it's not like an evacuation of a house, where people get in a car and drive away.... We just have to really get enough rain to feel confident... we're in a safe place to start opening it back up."
Cummins says they might not re-open all of the B-W-C-A Wilderness at the same time because wildfires just across the Canadian border will burn the whole fall season.
This story is courtesy of the Minnesota News Network.