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Storms start more fires, fail to douse them

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ELY, Minn. -- Thunderstorms that crossed the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on Tuesday night and Wednesday produced lighting that sparked several new forest fires, but officials said it didn’t offer enough rain to help snuff any blazes.

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The U.S. Forest Service said the Cummings Lake fire, about 12 miles northwest of Ely, covered about 50 acres Wednesday after more-accurate GPS readings were used to determine the fire’s perimeter.

Some 18 personnel were on the ground Wednesday working to create a line around the fire and had nearly half the fire encircled as of Wednesday afternoon.

The storms brought up to 0.8 inches of rain to areas near Cook and Orr but little rain on the Cummings Lake fire area.

Superior National Forest officials reported at least five new fires smoking late Tuesday and Wednesday, sparked by lighting that came with little or no rain. So far most of those fires remained small, with ground crews and aircraft responding quickly to douse them before they can grow.

Storms also tore across northern St. Louis County on Tuesday and knocked out power to more than 2,000 customers and dropped hail as large as quarters.

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