MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Crews battling a wildfire in a northern Minnesota wilderness area said several days of favorable weather have helped them get it under control, although slightly warmer temperatures, dry air and wind renewed concern Friday.

Becca Manlove, a spokeswoman for the firefighting effort in Ely, said the team expected to announce later Friday that at least a small percentage of the fire was contained after several weeks of burning out of control.

“We were able to get a lot of direct attack done in the last several days,” she said.

Friday brought less favorable conditions. U.S. Forest Service spokesman Doug Anderson predicted a “more active fire day” in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, where the fire has already consumed more than 160 square miles, or more than 100,000 acres.

But the weekend could bring more relief. The National Weather Service in Duluth predicted up to a half-inch of rain beginning late Saturday into Sunday, with a smaller chance of isolated thunderstorms. A lightning strike ignited the fire on Aug. 18.

Carol Christenson, a meteorologist in that office, said it appeared there was a good chance of even more substantial rain Tuesday and Wednesday. “It appears the dry cycle that characterized the first several weeks of the fire is past,” she said.

Anderson said some firefighters had left by Friday morning, leaving about 500 to fight the blaze.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack toured the fire damage by air Friday and attended a briefing at the ranger station in Ely. Klobuchar suggested it was worth considering residents’ complaints that the Forest Service waited too long to begin actively fighting the fire.

Search crews will spend Friday night actively looking for campers on the northern side of the Boundary Waters, where the fire could potentially spread.

It was about 11 days from the start of the fire until crews began serious efforts to fight it, following Forest Service forest management practice.

“Maybe that decision should have been made earlier, to start containing the fire,” Klobuchar said.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (8)
  1. yes sir says:

    Why do we need to pay politicians to look at a forest fire. Like they have any clue how to advise in this situation..

    1. True American says:

      Did you read anywhere in the story that they were going to advise? Your partisan hate come shining through.

      1. yes sir says:

        So we pay them to go gawk at what a fire does? How many thousands of dollars do you think it costs in taxpayer money to fly a helicopter around site seeing forest fire damage for no reason other than to look at it? If they aren’t going to advise in some way that means they re site seeing.

        1. Jim says:

          Gov. Dayton is the chief executive of the state and decides how the state will respond to the fire. He’s doing his job.

          If he were a Republican governor he would probably pray for rain. Or blame President Obama for the fire. Or maybe point out that the fire was god’s wrath for some kind of moral outrage. I’m glad we have a thinking adult in charge.

          1. jeb says:

            thats a good one, ha ha.

        2. True American says:

          @yes sir

          That’s the problem with America, every Republican wants to AVISE the professionals on how to do their job. Instead what they should be doing is getting the scope of the problem and then ask how they can help.

          1. jeb says:

            Just like Obama listened to his generals in Iraq and his energy department on the loan to Solyndra.

      2. Chuck says:

        @ True…

        “partisan hate”? Where do you get that????

        He is just referring to politicians, not a certain party… unless I am missing something. And I concur, they must be there to participate in some way… unless they pickup a shovel, they are there to sight see and maybe report the excitement back in DC… like they are going to help!

        This is a state problem in a National Forest… ironic, but Dayton should be in charge of the battle… not that he needs to personally be there either…

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