At approximately 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 5, Clearwater County Sheriff’s Department received a report of a fire burning in timber, lowland grasses and brush in a remote location in Itasca State Park, at the end of Bohall Trail and on the north side of Bohall Lake.
According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Lake Itasca and Shevlin Fire Department engines responded, along with 10 DNR Division of Forestry engines. DNR air resources responded, including two helicopters, one single engine air tanker airplane, one Fire Boss airplane and an air attack plane.
As of late Thursday afternoon, the fire, called the Bohall Trail fire, is approximately nine acres and 15% contained, according to DNR officials.
Kristi Coughlon, DNR public information officer, said on Thursday, "Fire activity is minimal. DNR crews made good progress yesterday to further secure containment. The fire is located in a wilderness area where no mechanical fire-fighting equipment, such as bulldozers and engines, are permitted. Crews hauled in hoses by hand. Water was being pumped from nearby ponds. Mop up was slow and complicated by drought conditions causing old-growth trees to burn at their roots and become unstable, creating overhead hazards for the crews. Due to drought, the fire was burning deep into the ground, requiring crews to pour substantial amounts of water deep into the duff to extinguish hot spots.
"Crews will continue to mop up by watering deeply into the ground and strengthening containment lines with hoses. Addressing hazardous overhead trees and burning tree roots and stumps will be a priority for crew safety," she continued.
No structures have been damaged and there are no injuries. Park staff evacuated Bert’s Cabins and the Ozawindib cabin, located on the north side of the park, as a precautionary measure. Affected visitors were provided accommodations elsewhere in the park. There are no additional evacuations at this time.
The origin of the fire is under investigation.
Wilderness Drive, beginning at the one-way road, will be closed until further notice. The Elk Lake Group Camp will remain closed while Wilderness Drive is closed. The fire tower is open by trail only. Access to the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center and Mississippi Headwaters remain open, as is the majority of the park.