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Local Staff Ride Archive

Stand 3 - Crane Lake Prescribed Fire Becomes the Mack Lake Wildfire

Between 1215 and 1230 a second spot fire was detected on the east side of M-33 just north of the original spot fire which had been contained by the tractor-plow and other personnel. This spot was in grass on the highway shoulder and was pushed by wind. The fire torched and then crowned within 100 feet of the origin in a stand of sapling sized jack pine. Surface fuel was primarily sedge, pine litter and duff at this point.

The tractor plow and 1000 gallon engine quickly attacked this second spot. However, they were not able to contain it as it spotted across their line and continued to move east gaining in intensity. The crews still felt they could catch the fire with the tractor and 1000 gallon engine. However, the District Ranger who also was serving as the tractor’s spotter conferred with the Burn Boss and decided to leave the scene and serve as an aerial spotter as they felt the fire had escaped. During this time a reporter briefly talked with the District Ranger along the powerline in regards to the fire’s status. The tractor plow operator was now without a spotter. The District Ranger stopped a passing motorist to get back to the nearby airport as a truck was not available. The 1000 gallon engine and the tractor continued flanking the fire to the east after failing to contain the spot fire. There was no radio communication between the two pieces of equipment after they left the powerline.


Looking west towards Highway M-33 at the point where the tractor-plow operator left the powerline and starting heading northeast.

Old plow lines can be identified by the rows of jack pine growing in them. Plow lines make a perfect seed bed after a crown fire in jack pine.