BWCA wildfire fighting costs $11 million to dateby Dan Kraker, Minnesota Public Radio
Ely, Minn. — The effort to contain the Pagami Creek wildfire burning in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness has cost $11 million to date, according to officials battling the 93,000-acre blaze.
Hundreds of firefighters from all over the country have been deployed to battle the fire, all of them professionals who draw a salary, said Bob Summerfield, a public information officer on the fire.
"We've used a lot of aircraft on this fire, that's one of the most expensive things that we do," he added. Bulldozers and other heavy equipment are also in constant use.
The Pagami Creek fire is now 61 percent contained, and even though winds are forecast to strengthen in coming days, Summerfield says he thinks firefighters have the upper hand.
"We're not anticipating any further threat at this time," he said. "We think we have the fire in good enough condition that the threat has been abated at this point."
Meanwhile, a group of five DFL state legislators from the Iron Range is asking the DNR and the Minnesota Attorney General to sue the U.S. Forest Service over its management of the fire.
The lawmakers say the state of Minnesota owns thousands of acres of forest burned by the fire, and the forest service should be held accountable for the loss of valuable state resources. State timber sales help fund the state's K-12 schools.
Superior National Forest officials say they hope to have the Pagami Creek fire fully contained by the end of the day Saturday.