Virtually since this fire started, I have been going up to the 10:00 a.m. Forest Service briefing at the Blankenburg landing on Seagull Lake. The Forest Service has gone out of their way to make sure that anyone interested knows exactly what the status of the fire is. It is nice to get maps and accurate briefings at these meetings. Maps are also posted at several spots along the Trail and in Grand Marais.
Especially after last Sunday, we have seen the fire grow steadily and alarmingly fast. It has been too hot and dangerous to put men on the ground to fight it. Islands on Seagull have succumbed to fire. The winds have blown the fire in every direction.
The picture has changed in the last few days. By this I don't mean that the fire is out, but almost no wind for the past few days has slowed the spread. Cooler temperatures, higher humidity, and a small amount of rain have all done their part to cool things down. Everyone is feeling cautiously optimistic.
Yesterday we got news that Seagull Lake was being opened for day recreation. More men and planes are steadily arriving. By the end of next week we will have about 1000 people involved.
Also the Forest Service felt it was safe to put 200 fire fighters on the ground attacking the flames. Previously men on the ground had been extremely restricted which we can totally understand. The fuel from the blowdown is extremely dry and stacked several feet high in many areas. Yesterday more crews were getting out with fire pumps to work on putting the fire out at several points.
So we are breathing a little easier on the Gunflint Trail. In spite of all you may have read, there is not, and never has been, an evacuation for this fire. At Gunflint our guests have been able to recreate normally throughout the fire but no one likes to see a cloud of smoke. Perhaps the uneasy comes because it reminds us that Mother Nature is still in control of forest fires as long as she wishes to be. We are not quite as powerful as we like to think.