Forest Service: Superior wildfire that started with prescribed burn largely contained

A wildfire in northern Minnesota that began when a prescribed burn went out of control this week was almost completely contained by Saturday afternoon, according to Superior National Forest rangers.

Fire crews have nearly secured all edges of the 209-acre wildfire, according to a statement from the U.S. Forest Service's Tofte Ranger District. They spent much of Saturday mopping up hot spots, dousing smoldering stumps and working to cool the area and strengthen control lines.

The fire began Wednesday afternoon after it grew from a prescribed burn area north of Hwy. 1 to just over 200 acres near the Little Isabella River Campground in Lake County, about midway between Ely and Silver Bay.

The Forest Service has been conducting several controlled burns in the area to try to eliminate some of the dead wood and fuel loads that have been building up over the last several dry years, and made worse by an unprecedented spruce budworm outbreak that has killed off millions of balsam firs.

Crews burned 159 acres on Wednesday in the Slim Lake South Unit northwest of Ely, and recently finished a 390-acre burn near the Gunflint Trail.

The Superior wildfire posed no threat to private property, according to the Forest Service.

Crews dumped water on it from aircraft on Wednesday, and light rain and cloud cover on Thursday and Friday helped keep the flames subdued. It showed little signs of activity on Saturday, aside from occasional creeping and smoldering, according to the Forest Service.

"The fire is not actively pushing in any direction," rangers wrote in a statement. "Fire activity is expected to remain minimal."