A 30-acre fire inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) has the U.S. Forest Service working on a public closure of the area to keep backcountry visitors safe.

Groups of paddlers on Ogishkemuncie Lake west of the Gunflint Trail were dispersed from the area on Tuesday by Forest Service staff who landed on the lake in a float plane, said Tim Engrav, a spokesman. He said canoe groups on Kekekabic Lake, to the west of the fire, are also being kept away from the area.

The fire is burning between Spice Lake and Ogishkemuncie Lake, and expanded from 20 acres to 30 acres in just a couple of hours Tuesday afternoon despite light wind. Engrav described it as an active fire feeding on dry conditions, but it did not grow much throughout the day Wednesday, Engrav said. Firefighters were flown to the area by float planes, and aerial water drops continued throughout the day.

Spice Lake is east of Knife Lake and Kekekabic Lake and southwest of Seagull Lake, about 10 miles west of the Gunflint Trail. The cause of the fire has not been determined.

The Spice Lake Fire was discovered Tuesday afternoon on a routine wildfire detection flight, only hours after the Superior National Forest announced a campfire ban for the entire BWCA. The ban is in effect until further notification, with no exceptions inside the BWCA.

"We are expecting we will have to close travel areas to keep everyone safe," Engrav said.

The area of the fire includes dead downed and standing trees that were killed by spruce budworms, the Forest Service said.

As part of the developing public safety plan, Engrav said, Forest Service rangers and other staff will paddle into the area to keep camping groups out of areas where there is potential for fire danger. A closure order is expected to be announced Thursday, he said.

"The potential for wildfire is high across all [land] ownerships in Northern Minnesota," the Forest Service said Tuesday in its news release about the campfire ban. "It is extremely important that people are careful with campfires in areas where they are allowed."

Other burning restrictions in the region have been announced by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and include St. Louis, Cook, Carlton and Lake counties, the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Staff writer Jana Hollingsworth contributed to this story.