Rescuers reached a group of injured Girl Scouts in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness after a lightning strike that occurred as thunderstorms rolled across northeastern Minnesota on Friday evening.

Early Saturday, the St. Louis County Rescue Squad said that the rescuers had reached Knife Lake and were working to evacuate the entire party of nine. (Initial reports said there were six.)

The rescue squad’s Rick Slaten had said earlier that the lightning strike had affected the entire party to some degree but that “two were showing symptoms that have us concerned.”

In the later update, the rescue squad said “all patients are awake, alert, and able to move without assistance.”

The sprawling Knife Lake, located some 30 miles northeast of Ely, straddles the border between the United States and Canada.

“We’re going in by ground and paddle,” Slaten had said of the initial rescue effort, which also involved authorities from Lake County. A motorboat transported canoes to the first portage, where rescuers then began paddling to reach the Girl Scouts, whose hometowns were unknown Friday night.

A National Guard helicopter was not available to aid the rescue effort Friday night, the rescue squad said. However, the Minnesota State Patrol deployed a fixed-wing aircraft, and a State Patrol helicopter was also being dispatched.

The National Weather Service reported that severe weather swept across northeastern Minnesota early Friday evening, spawning lightning, hail and strong winds.


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