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The Pagami Creek fire burns behind a firefighter on Sept. 6. Fire experts say they cannot recall a fire that burned as hot or traveled as fast as the Pagami Creek fire on the afternoon of Sept. 12. (Photo by U.S. Forest Service)

Did the Forest Service get burned?

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ELY -- If not for five hours on Sept. 12, the name Pagami Creek fire might have faded forever into the spruce bogs and jackpine forests of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness -- just another in the string of 435 lightning fires recorded in the wilderness since 1987.

It was during those five hours -- after weeks of drought, under 80-degree sunshine and fanned by 30-mph winds -- when the fire morphed from a slow-

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