Saturday, May 12, 2007

More Fire News

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.

12 comments:

Darcy Marx said...

Thanks, Sue, for keeping us posted. From our end we saw a reporter in front of Gunflint who was trying to ask question as everyone ran around with only an hour to get out. It was scary. The news reports down here say more buildings have been destroyed but they don't say where. Glad to know that everyone is safe and the lodge is still standing. You're in my prayers.

Joey said...

Sue, Bruce and Lee. I've been following the events, reading your blog and talking on the phone to my parents everyday since this started last week. I just wanted you to know I'm thinking about everyone on the Gunflint Trail and hopefully this will be over soon.
-Joey Young

Teresa said...

SO incredibly good to hear from you Sue. You are all in our thoughts & prayers! We are not just concerned for "the Lodge" but for everything in the area as we know it is your home in addition to your livelihood. Thanks for all you each do for the people fighting this fire - in addition to all else that you need to do. We are sending many prayers, thoughts and lots of positive energy your way. If there is anything more we can do, give or help with from afar please let us know.

Teresa Tuschl
Always An Adventure group
Appleton WI

Mike said...

You have all been in my thoughts and prayers all week. May God keep you and all those "up the Trail" in the palm of his hand until this fire comes to an end. You folks are awesome in the way you effectively deal with whatever adversity nature throws at you. I noticed from a fire perimeter map the campsite I occupied last summer on Rush Lake with some of my Boy Scouts was right in the middle of the area that burned when the Ham Lake fire turned south of Gunflint Lake. It was because of the Cavity Lake fire last year that we ended up at Rush Lake due to Cross Bay's closure the morning we were putting in. I feel fortunate now to have had the opportunity to use what is now likely a lost serene campsite on Rush Lake. No matter the changes, The intense connection I feel with the BWCAW and in particular the Gunflint Trail will keep bringing me back. May the rest of the year be normal for you.

Michael Halla
Troop 148

Nancy said...

Dear Sue, Bruce, Lee, Eva, Sheryl, Mandy, Denise, Bonnie, John and all our friends at Gunflint Lodge.

Thank you very much for posting the update. We've been so worried. We are thankful that everyone is safe and that the Lodge is still there. You are truly inspiring and incredible people. We hope this is all over soon. Everyone on the Trail is in our thoughts, hearts and prayers. We send virtual "hugs" to you all. Gunflint Lodge is our home away from home because of YOU. Please take care.

Nancy Hoglund & Shawn Bastien

Diana Rock Miller said...

Thank you Sue for posting in your Blog. I grew up on Gunflint Lake with Bruce and his sisters, learned some of my most valuable lessons from Justine. I have been reading the news with tears running down my cheeks as it seems the fire is raging through the forests...threatening so much that I love. Now I know where to come to understand, if there is understanding to what is happening.
Thank you. Diana Rock Miller

Katie R. said...

Thank you for the update. Be assured we ARE praying not only for the Lodge but also for everyone's safety. Thank you for all you've done to help in the fight of the fire. I can only imagine how thankful the firefighters must be.

Katie R. said...

for all your efforts.

Cindy said...

Sue, we are so glad that you have been able to post an update. We are voraciously reading everything we can in an effort to keep track of what is going on.

Our hearts go out to everyone on the Gunflint Trail. There have been many times this past week where we have simply started to cry because there isn't much that we can do to help. Gunflint is so special to us and to many others and its really difficult to have to stand by and see this happening to our friends.

You can bet we've been sending prayers and we are keeping all of you in our hearts and thoughts.

The efforts of everyone in fighting this fire and keeping the crews going is incredible. Its a testament to the spirit of the Gunflint.

We have not tried to call because we know you have more important things to tend to at this time. But please know we are here, thinking of all of you and if you need an extra hand, please, please call and we will get Randy or Jim or someone up there to help.

Cindy and Randy Gustafson

Cindy said...

Sue, we are so glad that you have been able to post an update. We are voraciously reading everything we can in an effort to keep track of what is going on.

Our hearts go out to everyone on the Gunflint Trail. There have been many times this past week where we have simply started to cry because there isn't much that we can do to help. Gunflint is so special to us and to many others and its really difficult to have to stand by and see this happening to our friends.

You can bet we've been sending prayers and we are keeping all of you in our hearts and thoughts.

The efforts of everyone in fighting this fire and keeping the crews going is incredible. Its a testament to the spirit of the Gunflint.

We have not tried to call because we know you have more important things to tend to at this time. But please know we are here, thinking of all of you and if you need an extra hand, please, please call and we will get Randy or Jim or someone up there to help.

Cindy and Randy Gustafson

Megan Feeney said...

Sue, Bruce, Lee and Eva:

Thank you so much for keeping us all posted. It is a testament to how well you know your guests and our deep love for Gunflint and the surrounding wilderness. We hope that knowledge sustains you in this difficult time. We are sending all our love and prayers your way. We can't wait to get up there and help you to rebuild.

The Feeneys

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