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Boreal Emergency Preparedness Portal

Superior National Forest - John Ek and Whelp wildfires update - September 9, 2021

Sep 09, 2021 10:20AM ● By Editor
From the Superior National Forest - September 9, 2021

ANNOUNCEMENT: Friday, September 10, will be the final daily update for the John Ek and Whelp fires. The Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 3 will return management of the fires back to the Superior National Forest on Sunday at 6:00 am. The team will continue to manage the Greenwood Fire. 

JOHN EK FIRE (1,357 acres, 0% contained): The John Ek Fire has experienced minimal growth the past week. Most work has been completed, including contingency lines on three sides of the fire (on the north side from Gabimichigami Lake to Tuscarora Lake; on the east side from Little Saganaga Lake to Dent Lake; and on the west side from Little Saganaga Lake to Pan Lake.) Should the fire become active again, these contingency lines will be used as necessary, including conducting burnouts along them and/or turning on sprinkler systems adjacent to those lines. Fire managers will continue to monitor the fire from the air. Structure protection crews will be finishing Firewise work (assessing structures, removing debris and thinning fuels near homes) on the south side of the Gunflint Trail in the Seagull Lake area prior to turning the fires back to the Forest.  

WHELP FIRE (50 acres, 0% contained): Contingency line on the south side of the fire from Phoebe Lake to Sawbill Campground is complete. Fire managers continue to use air resources to monitor the fire. 

 WEATHER and FIRE BEHAVIOR: It will be warmer and drier over the fire areas Thursday and Friday, with the chance of isolated rain Friday night. Temperatures will be 65-70 degrees with northwest winds 4-7 mph, and gusts to 15 mph. Minimum relative humidity will be 49-54%. Low fire spread is expected, although it continues to creep and smolder in deep duff and heavy fuels. 

SAFETY & EVACUATIONS:  The evacuation status of the Upper Gunflint Trail, from the south side of Loon Lake west to the end of the Gunflint trail remains in “Ready” status. There are currently no mandatory evacuations in Cook County. 


  • Superior National Forest lands and roads along the upper portion of the Gunflint Trail are closed due to fires in the vicinity. The closure includes all forest lands and roads along Cook County 12/Gunflint Trail beginning at the Cook County 92 intersection to the end of the Gunflint Trail. Trails End and Iron Lake campgrounds are in the closure area. 
  • Most of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness closure has been lifted, with the exception of the John Ek/Whelp fire closures and entry points associated with the Greenwood Fire and Gunflint Trail Closure. John Ek/Whelp closure area includes the following entry points: Seagull Lake Entry Point #54/#54A/L, Saganaga Lake Entry Point #55/#55A/J, Missing Link Lake EP #51, Brant Lake Entry Point #52, Cross Bay Lake Entry Point #50, Kekekabic Trail Entry Point #56 and #74, Skipper and Portage Lakes Entry Point #49, Kawishiwi Lake Entry Point #37, ​Magnetic Lake EP #57, Larch Creek EP #80. Due to upper Gunflint Trail closure South Lake EP #58 is closed. Due to the Greenwood Fire closure, the following are closed: Island River EP #34, Isabella Lake EP #35, Bog Lake EP #67, Little Isabella River #75, Snake River EP #84, Pow Wow Trail EP #86, and Hog Creek #36.
  • Across Superior National Forest, several closure orders are in effect due to wildfires, to protect public health and safety.  To see all the Forest closure orders and other alerts go to:

  • A temporary flight restriction for aircraft is in place over the fire areas. 

FIRE RESTRICTIONS: Fire restrictions are in place for the Superior National Forest, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for areas within state jurisdiction, as well as Cook, Lake, and St. Louis counties. Campfires are now allowed in most Superior National Forest fee campgrounds. See the Superior National Forest Fire Restrictions Order for details.  The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recently adjusted their fire restrictions in multiple counties. See MN DNR Wildland Fire Information for more information. 

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