A search and rescue team evacuated a group of Girl Scouts after lightning struck during thunderstorms that rumbled across the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on Friday night. At least two girls in the group were injured.
The group reached a landing at the edge of the BWCA about 4 a.m. Saturday with all accounted for, the St. Louis County Rescue Squad said in a statement.
At least two girls suffered serious injuries from the lightning strikes, authorities said. After reporting “acute symptoms that have us concerned,” law enforcement officers said "all patients are awake, alert and able to move without assistance."
The Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin Lakes and Pines released a statement saying that all the girls were back at their canoe base Saturday morning after being checked at a hospital in Ely. According to another statement, no one was directly struck by lightning but "they might have experienced ground current."
The party of nine, including a guide, reportedly called for help from an island on Knife Lake, near the Canadian border. Initial reports said it was a group of six.
The St. Louis County Rescue Squad sent an eight-member ground crew to trek into the chain of lakes to reach the group, rescue squad member Rick Slatten said by cellphone. To reach the area, the members had to navigate five portages.
"Search and Rescue is always able to use motors in the BWCA to affect an emergency rescue," the squad's statement said. "We transported canoes to the first portage by motorboat, then switched to paddle/portage mode."
A requested Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter was not available Friday night, so emergency operators worked with Minnesota State Patrol air support. The team knew the group's location because the outfitter was able to give them the campsite number.
The girls range in age from 15 to 18 years old, Slatten said. Officials didn’t know where the group was from.