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Encroaching Canadian fires, an active wildfire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and the continuation of tinder dry conditions throughout canoe country have wedged new obstacles and anxiety into a wilderness camping season already hectic with high visitor traffic.

Late Thursday, the U.S. Forest Service announced an evacuation plan and new closures in the BWCA that will cancel trips planned through the Mudro Lake entry point, a major travel route off the Echo Trail that launches eight canoe groups per day. The closure — prompted by an Ontario fire approaching the BWCA's Crooked Lake on the U.S. border — took outfitters by surprise.

"It makes me very nervous,'' said Jason Zabokrtsky, a wilderness guide and owner of Ely Outfitting Co. "We're going to be watching these wildfires in Ontario until the snow flies.''

The Forest Service announced that rangers will begin to evacuate campers Friday from Crooked Lake and redirect them to safer areas. The sudden closures affect the Crooked Lake travel zone, the Iron Lake travel zone and certain campsites north of Gun Lake.

"Fire managers are monitoring the situation and will determine when it is safe to lift this closure,'' the Forest Service announced.

Besides the trip cancellations and route changes forced on paddlers because of fire-related lake and campsite closures, campers have had to alter meal planning because of a broad campfire ban, and they are dealing with heavier competition for the dwindling number of available campsites

In Ely, the primary gateway to the affected area, a swarm of emergency fire crews — some from distant states — has significantly tightened overnight lodging capacity for paddlers arriving early for their trips.

Ginny Nelson, owner of Spirit of the Wilderness outfitters in Ely, said BWCA permit holders are understandably asking for more help as they plan their trips.

"We were already crazy busy,'' she said. "There's definitely a lot of new considerations.''

She's advising groups to intensify their planning, search early in the day for campsites when on the water and consider more meals that can be ready-made with boiling water. Though campfires are banned, camping stoves are still permitted.

She and Zabokrtsky were among outfitters who attended a wildfire meeting called Thursday on short notice by the Forest Service. They were advised that the Mudro access point north of Ely would be closed to paddlers, along with Crooked Lake and other lakes in the area.

With 10 lakes already closed south of Snowbank Lake and east of the always-busy entry point at Lake One, rangers have been rerouting paddlers since July 9 away from the potential fire zone created by a blaze near Delta Lake. Important lakes ordered closed because of that fire include Disappointment Lake, Parent Lake, Ahsub Lake and Jitterbug Lake.

"Undoubtedly this could lead to some overcrowding and pressure on other lakes since we're closing some areas for the safety of visitors and fire crews,'' said Joanna Gilkeson, a Forest Service spokeswoman. "It's not a perfect science.''

She said rangers swept through the 10 lakes in the Delta Lake fire zone, redirecting campers to other areas. The affected lakes are now posted with signs to keep paddlers out.

Of concern then, and still, is a 65-acre fire just north of Delta Lake, which is half in and half out of the BWCA. Gilkeson said Thursday that the lightning-caused blaze appears to be in check thanks to strong progress on containment lines and days of aerial water dumps. The effort has been aided by the absence of strong wind, an element that's still a wild card in the fight to grind out the fire. Waist- to chest-high timber debris left over from the 2016 BWCA blowdown storm has complicated the battle.

No new campsite, portage or lake closures in the area of the Delta Fire are in the works, Gilkeson said.

Canada's government on Thursday said wildland fires burning in the backcountry of Quetico Provincial Park (including one fire as large as 1,600 acres) prompted a wide-scale closure of the wilderness area.

Gov. Tim Walz said Thursday that he'll soon be talking to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack about additional firefighting assistance in the BWCA. Vilsack's agency oversees the U.S. Forest Service.

"The wildfire threat is huge for the Boundary Waters,'' said Walz, who noted that the rain forecast for the area is "pretty difficult.''

The situation is unusual because midsummer is usually a time of lush green-up in canoe country. But William Glesener, wildfire operations supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said unusually dry forest and grass fuels have created an epic spike in Minnesota wildland fires. More than twice as many acres as normal have burned and the season is only half over, he said.

"Normally we wouldn't see fires getting up and moving as fast as we're seeing them,'' Glesener said.

The Delta Lake fire was preceded this year by at least four other wildfires touching the BWCA and causing temporary lake and campsite closures that have expired.

Nelson, the outfitter, said she has received a small number of cancellations recently and she suspects other groups are no-showing. With campsite capacity as tight as it is, she's urging people who are going to be no-shows to officially cancel their permits to make new areas of entry available to others who are being forced to cancel or reroute their trips.

"We can't really rebook people right now because permits are super tight,'' Nelson said.

If long-term weather forecasts are correct, wildfires will continue to disrupt the season.

Travis Verdegan of the Midwest Interagency Fire Center in Grand Rapids, Minn., warned people in a recent memo to expect increasing ignitions from lightning. He also urged wildland firefighting crews not to underestimate the potential for mopped-up fires to rekindle.

"Existing buildup, hot and dry conditions and an extended amount of summer remaining will bring a very high risk of large catastrophic fires to the state,'' Verdegan wrote.

Staff writer Jessie Van Berkel contributed to this story.