The Hot Days of Summer

The heat of summer has finally arrived, much to my happiness and unfortunately, Greg's chagrin. I always say that I need a bit of this spike in temperatures because, mark my words, it will be cold again soon. Winter will be here before we know it, and this will only be a memory.

Of course, the weather in itself really isn't our big news right now. No doubt you may have heard that there is a forest fire burning in the BWCA, not far from Seagull Lake. Named the Cavity Lake fire, it started late last week from a lightning strike. The fire was spotted on Friday afternoon by a Forest Service air employee, out on a routine check for fires. Within a half-hour, they had called in air support in the form of water-dropping planes to begin work on the fire. Unfortunately, over the weekend, the weather was doing some funny things with wind, and the high temperatures were not helping. To top it off, fires burning elsewhere in Minnesota were of higher priority, as they were burning much nearer to homes and people. So the fire ended up growing.

The good news is that in the last several years, the Forest Service has been preparing for the possibility of a fire much like this one. I went to the website to see what they had posted about the fire. I downloaded the location map of the fire, which also showed the location of all of the previous prescribed burns that had been done, beginning in 2002. The Cavity Lake fire started west of these prescribed burn areas. It is totally within the Boundary Waters, and the objective is to keep it in the BWCA. The Forest Service has many tools to accomplish that. Some of those are the traditional methods of fire-fighting---the use of aircraft and personnel to work on setting up containment lines, and dropping water on the hotspots. In addition, the prescribed burns are another tool. Because of these old burns, those areas are now not likely to burn in the same way that the wildfire is burning. The fuel loads have been significantly reduced, so the fire can't burn as strong there. There are also lakes along the way that will slow the fire down.
We have been seeing the smoke columns in the sky at the west end of Gunflint Lake. On Saturday morning, we experienced some smoke in the air, and falling ash. A switch in the wind cleared it out. Since then, the winds have been kind to us, and the air has been clearer. We did see some spectacular color in the sky yesterday. The sun was shining through smoke and clouds, casting a golden orange light everywhere. To the south, a bank of clouds was passing by. The lake looked like liquid bronze, from all of the unusual light reflecting off of it. I've never seen it that color before.
We are grateful to the Forest Service and the Minnesota DNR, for the outstanding job that they have done in recent years, and for all of the work that they are currently putting in, to keep this fire in a manageable situation.