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Firefighters work to contain the Pagami Creek fire recently. (2011 file / News Tribune)

Pagami Creek fire 71 percent contained as weather warms

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Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

As of Sunday evening, the Pagami Creek fire, which has been burning in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for about 1-1/2 months, was 71 percent contained, said a report by Larry Helmerick, a public information officer assigned to the blaze.

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That's up from a Saturday estimate that the fire was 67 percent contained.

The cost of battling the stubborn fire is estimated to be $14.2 million, and 530 people remain on the scene. The fire has swept across about 93,000 acres, but Helmerick said it has not grown in appreciable size for several days, as crews appear to be gaining the upper hand.

"We're expecting record-setting temperatures this week, so we're trying to get as much done as we can," Helmerick said. "But there's extremely limited access to the fire. We're doing our best to hit it by canoe and aircraft where we can."

Ground crews also are working to keep the fire from spreading. Meanwhile, winds are forecast to pick up this week.

A blaze of such scale as the Pagami Creek wildfire requires a patient, systematic approach, Helmerick said.

"It's a bit-by-bit thing," he said.

The fire is believed to have been started by lightning on Aug. 18.

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