Bezhik Fire exits BWCA, affects area near cabins | www.WDIO.com

Bezhik Fire exits BWCA, affects area near cabins

WDIO
Updated: May 19, 2021 08:50 PM
Created: May 18, 2021 11:10 AM

Firefighters continue to battle the Bezhik Fire on Wednesday. | USDA Forest Service Firefighters continue to battle the Bezhik Fire on Wednesday. | USDA Forest Service

The Bezhik Fire has impacted an area with five cabins after going beyond the borders of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

"There is some private property at the south end of the Moose Loop Forest Road that we've been talking about in terms of location. That property was threatened, and impacted by the fire yesterday (Tuesday) when it made its northerly push," said Tim Engrav, a Public Information Officer with the USDA Forest Service.

Engrav says there are no confirmed reports of any damage to the cabins.

The fire was reported to be at 1,002 acres as of Wednesday evening. It had grown from 10 acres on Monday evening to 950 acres late Tuesday evening, after an earlier Tuesday estimate was downgraded.

"Yesterday (Tuesday) was a pretty extreme fire day in terms of wind, and warm temperatures, and low humidity, and because of that, the fire was pushed to the north," said Engrav.

Engrav told WDIO News on Wednesday afternoon that there is not yet any estimated date of containment. Overcast skies, mist, and light rain appeared to be aiding fire suppression efforts.

A lightning strike started the Bezhik Fire in northern St. Louis County. | WDIO A lightning strike started the Bezhik Fire in northern St. Louis County. | WDIO

The Forest Service says lightning started the fire in the BWCAW's Trout Lake unit on Monday afternoon in an area away from any travel routes. It started west of Big Moose Lake, north of Cummings Lake, about 16 miles north of Tower, and pushed to the north on a "very active" Tuesday afternoon.

On Wednesday morning, the Forest Service says firefighters would be looking for opportunities to work direct on the fire edge in those areas as well as continue structure protection efforts on the private property at the south end of the Moose Loop.  

The fire suppression strategy includes finding locations to hold the fire using natural barriers, supported by aerial water drops. An air attack plane directed water drops by FireBoss airplanes on Tuesday afternoon.

The Forest Service said the fire is in a challenging location to access on the ground.

A helicopter flies near the Bezhik Fire on Wednesday. | Ryan Juntti/WDIO A helicopter flies near the Bezhik Fire on Wednesday. | Ryan Juntti/WDIO

"The safety of firefighters and the public are the highest priority and therefore we need to evaluate where and how to put firefighters on the ground when it is safe to do so," the update said.

Officials are assessing private lands adjacent to the BWCAW and north of the fire, and working to set up structure protection measures if it is safe to do so.

The Superior National Forest already had additional crews and engines on site. A 20-person Lolo Hotshot Crew and a 10-person module from the Cherokee Hotshot Crew are among those in the area.

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