If you’re anywhere in Minnesota, chances are in, recent days you’ve heard a little bit about the Pagami Creek Wildfire. The fire, ignited by an August 18 lightning strike about 14 miles east of Ely, exploded in Monday’s high winds. The fire now covers 100,000 acres and has burned primarily in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Lake County.
Wildfires are always stressful events that can stoke fear and misinformation. Rest assured, although the Pagami Creek wildfire is a very major wildfire event, it remains a long, long ways off from the Gunflint Trail and Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center. As the crow flies, we’re at least 30 miles from the fire’s most northeastern edge. Since Tuesday, we’ve seen a stretch of cool, humid days which help check the wildfire’s growth.
In fact, we haven’t had any Pagami Creek smoke since Monday’s blow-up. (Unfortunately for Wisconsinites and Chicagoians, the wind has been blowing smoke their way for the last couple days. Sorry!) Although you may experience some heavy smoke as you drive up Lake Superior’s North Shore on Highway 61, the Pagami Creek wildfire is no reason to delay your autumn visit to Chik-Wauk or the Gunflint Trail.
While you may not find any smoke when you visit the Trail, you’ll find a lot of other things. The upper Gunflint Trail is currently wearing its autumn coat of yellow and red foliage. The moose, deer and grouse all seem to have been a little more active in the cooler temperatures. The air now carries that decidedly autumn crispness and that crispness in turn always seems to make the sky a little brighter blue.
For the best updates on the Pagami Creek fire, we recommend you check out the fire’s Inciweb. If you’d like to learn more about Gunflint Trail wildfires, check out the wildfire panel in the museum. Books in our reading corner offer a more in-depth look at wildfire history, especially the Ham Lake Fire of 2007.
After all, this is a fire dependent ecosystem. And even when there’s a fire in the forest, North woods life goes on, just as it always has.