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Boreal Emergency Preparedness Portal

Superior National Forest - John Ek and Whelp wildfires update - September 10, 2021

Sep 10, 2021 01:18PM ● By Editor
Photo: Kloydyke Kate from the Super National Forest Facebook page

From the Superior National Forest - September 10, 2021

ANNOUNCEMENT: This will be the final daily update for the John Ek and Whelp fires. Starting Sunday, please call the Gunflint Ranger District (218-387-1750) or the Tofte Ranger District (218-663-8060) for information. 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 until Tuesday. 

JOHN EK FIRE (1,357 acres, 0% contained): The John Ek Fire experienced minimal growth this past week. Contingency lines on three sides of the fire are complete (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 finish 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 stay warm and dry Friday, with a chance of isolated rain Friday night. Temperatures will be 71-76 degrees with northwest winds 6-10 mph, and gusts 20-25 mph. Minimum relative humidity will be 42-47%. The fire 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. 


  • Effective September 11, Superior National Forest lands and roads along the upper Gunflint Trail will reopen with the exception of Blankenburg Boat Launch, Iron Lake and Trails End campgrounds and all associated facilities. These campgrounds will remain closed to serve as basecamps for firefighters responding to the fires.
  • The forest is downsizing the John Ek and Whelp Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness closure. Effective September 11, the following entry points will reopen: Seagull Lake Entry Point #54/#54A/L, Saganaga Lake Entry Point #55/#55A/J, 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. Visitors with valid permits for Seagull Lake entry points will be able to access the lake via Blankenberg boat launch or Trails End campground. This is the only allowable public use of the boat launch and campground at this time. The following entry points will remain closed until further notice: Missing Link Lake EP #51 and Brant Lake Entry Point #52.
  • 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: 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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