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Firefighters Mopping Up Forest Fire Near Ely

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ELY, Minn. (AP) — Firefighters were mopping up Wednesday at the scene of a forest fire near Ely in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area but officials warned that conditions in the area are expected to remain dry due to a drought so paddlers need to be careful with their campfires.

Daria Day, a spokeswoman for the incident management team, said deliberately set fires Monday and Tuesday succeeded in sharply reducing the threat of the fire spreading out of the BWCA and threatening homes along the Fernberg Road east of Ely in northeastern Minnesota.

Day said 103 firefighters were still on duty Wednesday. They planned to use helicopters to drop water on hot spots while ground crews set spot fires to remove unburned wood and brush to secure the fire line, she said.

The Pagami Creek Fire was spotted Aug. 18. Day said the total number of acres burned was still being determined, but firefighters expected the final number to be between 1,700 and 2,000 acres. The fire is being allowed to burn on its southern flank because it’s expected to benefit the forest in the long term.

Day said paddlers on popular Lake One and Lake Two should keep a safe distance away from the southern shorelines, which were affected by the fire, and to make sure they douse their campfires and never leave them unattended. While officials believe this fire was caused by lightning, some smaller fires in recent days have been blamed on campers.

The Superior National Forest has not imposed restrictions on campfires within the BWCA, but Day said the Ely area weather forecast for the next few weeks calls for continued dry and warm weather.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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