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fire fire
July 25, 2006 10:30 AM   Subscribe

The Cavity Lake Fire: On July 14th of this year a lightning strike in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (previous posts) started a wildfire that has so far burned over 30,000 acres, the biggest fire in the area since 1894. A large reason for the size of this fire is the 1999 blowdown of 400,000 acres of forests, that's 600 square miles of dead wood waiting to burn. Short video of firefighters creating a buffer zone, blogger's pics and comments on the aftermath in an area that was just reopened. Five photo galleries of related images: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5. This is my favorite pic to date, that is the smoke plume from this fire.
posted by edgeways (20 comments total)

 
Evidently, God ispunishing the Boundary Waters for being a sinner. The sin, I presume, is being so close to Canada.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:42 AM on July 25, 2006


Or maybe it's Lake Superior, who looks like one devilish dude.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:56 AM on July 25, 2006


Well, portaging should be easier now, if anything.
posted by pmbuko at 10:59 AM on July 25, 2006


Whenn al this is over, they're going to find the skeleton of Johnny Cash in the center, holding a cigarette lighter and saying "I don’t give a damn about your yellow buzzards."
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:07 AM on July 25, 2006


"Remote Sensing Applications Center, USDA Forest Service" updates twice a day and has high resolution maps of the whole US showing current fires and previously burned locations.

Here's the map showing this fire.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:09 AM on July 25, 2006


My favorite forest fire picture from a fire in the Bitteroot Valley of Montana six years ago.
posted by Staggering Jack at 11:28 AM on July 25, 2006 [4 favorites]




Have they tried fighting those creeps with Crest?
posted by Smedleyman at 11:28 AM on July 25, 2006



*sniff* This is where I grew up. It broke my heart when the storm blew through and you just new a fire would result. Well, the good news is in a couple years it will be green again.


Meanwhile:
"Remote Sensing Applications Center, USDA Forest Service" updates twice a day and has high resolution maps of the whole US showing current fires and previously burned locations.

What did they shoot these through, a screen door? They look pretty bad, which suprises me.
posted by fluffycreature at 11:38 AM on July 25, 2006


Wow - I had no idea this was happening. Doesn't make the front page of the Times... I spent some happy summers up there canoeing.
posted by mtstover at 11:56 AM on July 25, 2006


Those RSAC maps are computer generated based on processing of satellite data. The satellite uses IR to see hotspots, and the computer adds those hotspots as red on the map, fading to orange and yellow as a permanent record of where they've been in the year.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:44 PM on July 25, 2006


In 1997, the 20,000 acre Routt Divide Blowdown in Colorado's Mt. Zirkel Wilderness Area (~25 miles northeast of Steamboat Springs) was also followed by wildfires in 2002 that burned over 30,000 acres.

Pictures of these blowdowns look like the 1908 Tunguska Event, which destroyed over 800 square mile of forest.
posted by cenoxo at 1:11 PM on July 25, 2006


Here's a look at the blowdown from the Minnesota DNR a few years back. The attitude towards the fire by officials has been pretty laissez faire, as long as it's not burning people, let it burn. I don't know how I feel about all this.

It's been in my short term plans to head up there soon for awhile now. The BWCA is big (1,700 square miles; 1.09 million acres) so as big as this fire is, there's plenty of green luscious boundary waters still to go around.
posted by kjell at 1:32 PM on July 25, 2006


as long as it's not burning people, let it burn.

As I understand it, the over suppression of fires in the western US has led to MUCH MUCH WORSE fires because of all of the unburned brush.

Fires are a natural thing and ecologies adapt to them.
posted by flaterik at 2:54 PM on July 25, 2006


Dang ... I used to go up there for a week every summer or so ... back in the 80s.
Nothing like packing in everything in you need for a week and hauling out all your trash.
posted by Dillenger69 at 3:14 PM on July 25, 2006


[this message brought to you by the Responsible Campers League of America]
posted by Flashman at 4:40 PM on July 25, 2006


This is an example of a good post made great by the contributions that followed. Metafilter at its best.

This fire is a very good thing. Fire is what give the forest diversity. Fire creates the meadows where a lot of our favorite animals, like deer, feed. Fire leads to blackberries and blueberries and all kinds of wildlife. Without fire, you end up with nothing but thick, dark, sunless forest--hobbit country. This has charms of its own, but doesn't support much biodiversity. Fire is an important part of creating a forest mosaic.

American Indians understood this and purposely set fires to increase browse for animals and for other reasons. An awful lot of what we think of as the North American wilderness are Indian-made landscapes, created with fire. We can't bring it back fast enough.
posted by LarryC at 5:08 PM on July 25, 2006


In the NW, the areas burned by big fires are an important and active ecology. There are animal and plant specialists (e.g. fireweed) which live in those areas. Because they're open, as mentioned above there's more forage for animals like deer.

After Mt. St. Helens devastated a huge area of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Congress set aside the ruined area as a national monument. Scientists of various kinds have been watching the area since, and one of the big surprises has been how rapidly it's recovered. Turns out that the same opportunist species who take advantage of burned areas have moved in to the areas destroyed by the blast.

By the way, if we're getting into the question of "big", a 30,000 acre fire may be huge for Minnesota, but it's not huge by the standards of the NW. In 1933, 240,000 acres of the Coast Range went up in smoke.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:19 PM on July 25, 2006


Can I just ask - is there a point to putting the porta-pottys anywhere near the MREs?
posted by Smedleyman at 8:32 PM on July 25, 2006


Smedleyman:

Cuts out the middleman???
posted by leftcoastbob at 4:57 PM on July 26, 2006


Fortunately I was away while this post was current and I missed the "all forest fires are good" comments. Check the Wikipedia Hinckely Minnesota fire feature; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Hinckley_Fire. Take a look at the Peshtigo fire story too.

Wildland fires are like people; none of them are all good, and none of them are all bad.
posted by X4ster at 10:30 PM on July 26, 2006


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