Firefighters Battle Blaze in Boundary Waters Region of Minnesota

Firefighters continued to make good progress on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area wildfire Sunday, as they were helped by continued moderate weather.

The fire was 30 percent contained, said Peter D'Aquanni, public information officer with the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center, late Sunday afternoon.

Officials say rain helped firefighting efforts on the north and east flanks of the fire, reducing the threat to structures along the Gunflint Trail. The fire area received more than a quarter inch of rain.

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The Sea Gull Lake area received three-tenths of an inch of rain Sunday, enabling firefighters to work right on the fire line.

"It's basically been a good couple of days of firefighting," D'Aquanni said.

About 420 people were working on the fire Sunday and that number was expected to grow. The cost of the fire has risen to $2.7 million, he said.

The wildfire that began with a lightning strike on July 14 hadn't changed much in size in recent days, officials said. By Sunday evening, it had burned close to 50 square miles, including about 39 square miles of land. Homes and structures along the Gunflint Trail weren't immediately threatened.

The weather for the next few days was supposed to be fairly calm, D'Aquanni said. There was a possibility of some rain, but the winds were not expected to pick up until Wednesday.

Officials planned burnout operations from Gabimichigami Lake to Kekakabic Lake to Ogishkemuncie Lake, restricting travel in the area.

The U.S. Forest Service, which manages the BWCA, has closed less than a dozen of the region's 49 entry points. Campfires and charcoal-burning stoves were banned in the blowdown area, though gas or propane cook stoves were still allowed.

The BWCA, which covers about 1,500 square miles along Minnesota's border with Canada in what is known as the Arrowhead region, contains hundreds of lakes and rivers and is a popular destination for campers and anglers.