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Woman, teen Boy Scout camping with Scout group killed in Boundary Waters storm

Two people with a Boy Scouts group camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness are dead and others injured after a powerful storm ripped across northern Minnesota early Thursday.

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An injured camper flown out of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness by U.S. Forest Service floatplane after a windstorm last night knocked trees down on Basswood Lake. Attending to the victim were staff from the Ely Area Ambulance Service. This injured party received non-life threatening injuries and was treated at the Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital. Photo by Hailey Worth, Ely Echo Newspaper

Two people with a Boy Scouts group camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness are dead and others injured after a powerful storm ripped across northern Minnesota early Thursday.

The St. Louis County Rescue Squad was assisting Lake County Sheriff’s Office on Basswood Lake in the Boundary Waters, said Dave Phillips, St. Louis County undersheriff. He said at least one party of nine campers was involved with multiple victims.

The group was with the Northern Tier High Adventure Base Program, affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America. The deceased were a 39-year old woman, a volunteer, and a 13-year-old boy. No information has been provided on how they died.

A spokeswoman with the Boy Scouts of America office in Irving, Texas said they would release the names and hometowns of the victims after their families have been notified.

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

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

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

Telephone and power was out in much of the area this morning, 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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John Myers, Forum News Service

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