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Two dead in Boundary Waters in wake of storm

ELY - Trees are down and roads are blocked in the Ely area this morning after a massive storms swept across the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, with two people dead and others injured.

ELY - Trees are down and roads are blocked in the Ely area this morning after a massive storms swept across the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, with two people dead and others injured.

It appeared Basswood Lake was a hard-hit area, with the Lake County Sheriff's office confirming two fatalities in that area.

The St. Louis County Rescue Squad was assisting Lake County on Basswood Lake, said Dave Phillips, St. Louis County undersheriff. He said at least one party of nine campers was involved with multiple injuries and a fatality.

A U.S. Forest Service float plane was part of a rescue effort into the wilderness early Thursday after several reports of emergency satellite beacon devices going off, said Gus Smith, Kawishiwi District ranger.

“We don’t know the situation with each of the (beacon alerts) that we’ve recieved,’’ Smith said. “My concern is that we probably have people injured or stranded, because the portages are blocked with trees.”

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But radio relay towers were out across most of the area and communications between emergency services personnel are severely limited.

Telephone and power was out in much of the area, including the U.S. Forest Service Kawishiwi Ranger Station in Ely. Smith said his office had no phone service as of 9 a.m.

The Fernberg Road and Cloquet Line were littered with trees after the pre-dawn storm, but most major roads are now passable, Smith said.

“The pilot reported trees blocking roads, a lot of trees down. We really don’t have a handle on how widespread it is,” Smith said. “The worst seems to be from the Ely area on to the east. But we still don’t have reports from everywhere.”

Storms in the BWCAW on June 19 left one camper dead and five others injured in three separate incidents.

 

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