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Closures Continue In John Ek And Whelp Wildfires

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - Closures continue in northern Minnesota due to the ongoing John Ek and Whelp Wildfires.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, Superior National Forest lands and roads along the upper Gunflint Trail are closed including roads along Cook County 12/Gunflint Trail beginning at the Cook County 92 intersection and to the end of the Gunflint Trail. Trails End, Iron Lake campgrounds and South Lake are also closed.

Most of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness closure has been lifted, but temporary flight restrictions remain in place over the fire areas.

According to authorities, crews have flown into the John Ek fire to "improve portages and sprinkler systems" along the east and west sides. Structure protection crews are also said to be working on the south side of the Gunflint Trail in the areas of Poplar Lake, Round Lake, and Tuscarora Lodge.

The John Ek fire is roughly 1,350 acres, while the Whelp fire is 50 acres. Both are 0% contained.

Officials say that fire behavior has been minimal since last weekend's rain, and recent cooler and cloudy weather has reduced the visible fire. However, the sunshine this weekend will increase fire smoldering.

On Sept. 2, the Cook County Sheriff's Office officially changed the evacuation status of the Upper Gunflint Trail back to "Ready" status. There are currently no mandatory evacuations in Cook County, however, the USFS says the public should continue to monitor fire statuses as conditions can change quickly.

To see the current John Ek/Whelp closures, full forest order and other alerts, click here.


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