Pagami Creek Fire

The Pagami Creek Fire as seen from Lake Insula on Saturday, Sept. 10 (Greg Seitz photo)

The Pagami Creek Fire started with a lightning strike on August 18, smoldered for a couple weeks, was subject to a prescribed burn to prevent its spread out of the Boundary Waters over Labor Day weekend, and blew up suddenly and unpredictably on Sept. 11-13.

The fire grew from about 1,000 acres to 93,000 acres in the course of a few days. Fortunately, no people or property were seriously harmed, the fire was mostly contained to the wilderness, and a spell of wet, cool weather gave firefighters a chance to start containing the fire. As of late October, the fire is being monitored from the air, but no longer actively managed on the ground.

Table of contents:

  1. Fire map
  2. Good for forests, bad for people
  3. Eyewitness account
  4. Photos and video
  5. Media coverage

Fire map

Use the interactive map below to see where the fire burned.

View Pagami Creek Fire in a larger map

Fire: Good for forests, bad for people

Narrows between Lake Three and Four, Sunday, Sept. 11

Narrows between Lake Three and Four, Sunday, Sept. 11

Fire is a natural part of the Boundary Waters ecosystem, and important for healthy forests. Letting fire burn inside the wilderness when possible is a keystone of wilderness management policy. It is in places like the BWCAW where such natural forces can be allowed to function. There are few places where that is still an option today.

For more about what the Pagami Creek Fire means for the Boundary Waters forests and wildlife, check out the following links:

Pagami Creek Fire, Lake Three, Sept. 11

Pagami Creek Fire, Lake Three, Sept. 11 (Photo by Greg Seitz)

The Friends’ executive director Paul Danicic laid out some of the challenges and opportunities presented by the Pagami Creek Fire in a letter to the Minneapolis Star Tribune which was published in the Sept. 20 newspaper, as well as in the Ely Echo and Timberjay newspapers.

Eyewitness account

Friends’ communications director Greg Seitz happened to be traveling in the BWCAW when the fire started to grow over the weekend of Sept. 9 – 11. He and some friends watched the smoke plume get bigger from a campsite on the south end of Lake Insula. On Sunday, Sept. 11, they were part of the evacuation of the area.

Greg posted a video slideshow of the trip on YouTube on Monday, Sept. 12 and it quickly was seen by a couple thousand people. Minnesota Public Radio soon asked for permission to publish his photos on their website. The photos ended up appearing on KARE 11 TV, the Star Tribune newspaper’s front page, and other newspapers, websites and TV stations. Greg’s story was also the subject of a short piece on WCCO news by reporter Bill Hudson.

Read Greg’s own accounts of the fire:

Photos and video

Lake Insula, Pagami Creek Fire

Lake Insula - Photo by Tim Gellenbeck, one of last to evacuate the lake (click image to see his photo gallery)

Seen from Lake Insula, Saturday, Sept. 10

Seen from Lake Insula, Saturday, Sept. 10 (Click to see Greg Seitz's entire photo gallery)

Jackpine cones opening up

Photos of new life in the burn area (Oct. 9)

Media coverage


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