National Forest lands closing along Gunflint Trail due to ongoing wildfires |

National Forest lands closing along Gunflint Trail due to ongoing wildfires

Tommy Wiita
Updated: August 25, 2021 07:44 PM
Created: August 25, 2021 10:07 AM

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is closing down areas near the Super National Forest in northeastern Minnesota due to ongoing wildfires in the area on Wednesday. 

Lands and roads along the upper portion of the Gunflint Trail will be closed due to the fires and limited availability of firefighting resources. According to the organization, county roads and private roads will remain open. 

The closure includes all forest lands and roads along Cook County Highway 12, beginning at the Cook County 92 intersection to the end of the Gunflint Trail. The closed-off area includes Trails End and Iron Lake campgrounds. Campground reservations have been canceled and refunded for the next seven days, through Aug. 31, according to the update on Wednesday. The USFS will reevaluate the closure and determine whether it needs to be extended due to active fires. 

Specifically, the fire that has influenced these decisions to be made relates to the John Ek Fire. The fire is located 2½ miles south of Little Saganaga Lake and extends from John Ek Lake to the southeast corner of Elton Lake. The fire is estimated to be 2.4 square miles in size. As of Wednesday morning, there are no mandatory evacuations in Cook County. 

Another fire, the Whelp Fire, is a lightning-caused fire located five miles northwest of Sawbill Lake and is an estimated 50 acres. As of Wednesday morning, the fire has continued to show moderate fire behavior, according to the USFS. Preparation for sending firefighters is being considered. 

However, even with the lands temporarily closed, the USFS says the Gunflint Trail and other county-managed roads are open to vehicles and visitors may recreate on private land and enjoy resorts. There are additional day-use opportunities outside the closure area in the forest. The USFS said to call the district or visit the forest's website for more information. 

Crews were also battling the massive Greenwood Fire, which is now more than 30 square miles in size. Lake County Emergency Management said on Wednesday that crews who went into the fire line found three damaged structures and 12 others that had been destroyed.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has a crew in the area covering these ongoing wildfires. This story will be updated as we learn the latest developments. Be sure to follow Kirsten Swanson on Twitter for the latest updates.

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