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Intentional fire set by Forest Service now burning out of control in northern Minnesota

An intentional fire started by the U.S. Forest Service jumped out of control and outside the intended area on Thursday north of Minnesota Highway 169 near Foss Lake, about 10 miles west of Ely.

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An intentional fire started by the U.S. Forest Service jumped out of control and outside the intended area on Thursday north of Minnesota Highway 169 near Foss Lake, about 10 miles west of Ely.

The fire jumped its lines at about 2 p.m., spurring the Forest Service to declare it a wildfire and call in water-dropping airplanes, helicopters and additional ground crews.

The Forest Service said Thursday that it was notifying visitors to the area who may be in the path of the fire, which was blowing north toward the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and away from developed areas, pushed by southerly winds at about 10 mph. The fire was just north and east of the Crab Lake entry to the BWCAW.

Becca Manlove, a spokeswoman for the Superior National Forest, said the intentional fire was supposed to be confined to 78 acres. As of Thursday night authorities had no estimate yet on how much the fire had grown outside that boundary; they were waiting for the smoke to clear so they could get a better look at the fire.

The smoke plume from the fire could be seen from miles away and was leading many people to call 911 to report the fire, Manlove said.

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The region remains in the midst of a weeklong dry spell with warm and sunny days. Those are perfect conditions to start intentional fires that are aimed at improving wildlife habitat, regenerating forest growth and removing fuel for future wildfires.

But those intentional fires sometimes grow beyond the intended boundaries, and the conditions for wildfires to spread remain high in the area until new green grass and leaves overcome last year's dead and dry forest brush.

The next significant chance for rain isn't until Sunday night.

Related Topics: ELYFIRES
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