Smoke from Minnesota wildfire drifting into northern Illinois

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This photo provided by Visit Duluth Public Relations, smoke fills the sky from a fire outside the borders of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area near Ely, Min. on Sept. 11, 2011. The Pagami Creek forest fire has more than tripled in size since Sunday and has grown to cover more than 16,000 acres. The blaze has forced Lake County and Superior National Forest officials to close several county and Forest Service roads north of Minnesota Highway 1 between Ely and Isabella. Some residents and campers are being asked to evacuate the area. (AP Photo/Visit Duluth Public Relations, Gene Shaw)

That smoky smell wafting through your yard Tuesday wasn’t your neighbor’s barbecue, the National Weather Service says.

It’s evidence of a large wildfire that’s been raging in northeastern Minnesota for more than two weeks.

Although the fire is more than 400 miles northwest of the area the combination of sinking air and northerly winds behind a cold front has moved the smoke into Illinois and as far as Michigan.

In Lake County the emergency manager reports that the smoke is strong enough to cause breathing difficulties and eye irritation.

The weather service advised people with respiratory problems to use caution while smoke affects the area.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the smoke is being carried along a jet stream from a fire in Pagami Creek, Minnesota.

The fire was ignited by a lightning strike Aug. 18 and has grown to about 60,000 acres in the Boundary Waters wilderness area of Minnesota. As many as 200 firefighters are involved in the effort to strike out the fire.

The smoke effect was likely persist until Tuesday evening according to National Weather Service meteorologist Charles Mott.

“It’s real and it’s out there,” he said.

Kim Janssen

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