This is another blog that is not too much fun to write. On Thursday afternoon Gunflint Lake was put under a mandatory evacuation notice by the sheriff. At that point we had a northwest wind that was roaring down Gunflint at speeds of up to 25 mph. The north shore of Gunflint was burning and would burn all the way to Little Gunflint. Then the fire would cross over Little Gunflint and burn 12 miles south. So that is the bad news.
The good news is that all the homes and businesses on the west and south shore of Gunflint Lake are still standing. On Wednesday the Forest Service did a back burn north of the Gunflint Narrows Road. That burn stopped the fire from reaching everything on the west and south shores of Gunflint.
On Friday the winds had switched to the east and southeast. The firefighters were able to hold lines almost everywhere. The Seagull/Saganaga area of the fire appears to be cooling off some. Around Gunflint and Loon we have five strike crews which means 25 fire trucks.
This morning (Saturday) the Forest Service announced that they were going to do another back burn at the east end of Gunflint and Loon Lakes. It would follow the old power line right-of way and then go east on the Crab Lake Road. The reason for the burn is that on Sunday they are expecting very strong winds from the east and southwest that could threatened the south shore of Gunflint and Loon Lake. Keep your fingers crossed.
Back to the Thursday events. I was TOLD to evacuate by my son and my husband on Thursday. Meanwhile they stayed with six staff: Sheryl, Sarah, Nick, Adam, Jon and Jason, to serve dinner to the firefighters – all 510 of them. It was the last night we were responsible for dinner and the only possible way these people were going to get a meal.
That dinner was probably one of the most appreciated meals ever served at Gunflint Lodge. Of course, you can hardly believe how much these people (men and women) can eat after fighting a fire all day. The chefs started with roast beef then went to turkey and then went to salmon for the main meat. Vegetables went as fast as they could fill the pans. They served 200 lbs. of mashed potatoes and just made it. The next option was to open cans of pork and beans. We have a salad bowl that is about 18 inches in diameter and 10 inches deep. They filled it 12 times. Bruce said that virtually every person took two slices of bread. Jon figured they went through about 35 gallons of milk. Dessert was 25 watermelons, leftover pies from the previous night and ice cream. It wasn’t a gourmet meal but everyone seemed to enjoy it.
There were a few problems during the meal service – like they lost electricity in the middle of it. The phone service also went out which frustrated me in Grand Marais. When it came time to clean up, they had neither electricity nor water. There is going to be a huge kitchen cleaning party when we get home.
For those of you who have family and friends at Gunflint and other places on the Trail, everyone is safe. The highest priority for the Forest Service is and will remain the personal safety of everyone in the area. Thus far, there have been no injuries. Knock on wood.
The hardest part of this for everyone is being in limbo. We all want it to end so we can get started cleaning up. Then everyone is committed to moving on from that point.
I’ll try to write here each day for a bit. Meanwhile if any of you have any influence with the Man Upstairs, we would appreciate some help.