Margaret Floch jokes that she may not be on the front lines, but she’s pretty close.
The manager of the La Ronge Co-op Marketplace has been keeping the store open so that crews and those who stayed behind can eat.
“If they don’t have food source I don’t think we’d have as many volunteers and people around,” Floch said from her camper in the Co-op parking lot, where she’s been sleeping since Saturday’s evacuation.
She’s provided food to firefighters and soldiers as well as community members who are cooking meals for several different groups. Some food was given away because it was on the verge of spoiling, and as a result the meat, bakery and deli sections have been depleted.
The store has been open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, but Floch said she’s around to let people in after hours.
“As soon as I see a vehicle, I bounce out and holler to them, ‘Is there something I can help you with?’ I think right now, everybody that’s up here is almost part of our family.”
Canadian troops outside La Ronge Co-op Marketplace on July 9, 2015. Courtesy Government of Saskatchewan.
She said most of the people coming into the store are also surprisingly upbeat considering the conditions.
On Thursday, Floch ventured away from the Co-op parking lot for the first time since her community evacuated.
“It really seemed weird to not see people everywhere. There’s usually people walking in the ditch, or people, you know, driving around, and it was pretty different.”
Floch admits she was scared to be in La Ronge when the evacuation order was given last weekend, but said she knew what she had to do when the mayor asked if she would stay behind to work.
“It’s so good because everybody is so happy and appreciative. I don’t know if we could have done anything different.”
Update from Tammy Cook-Searson, chief of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band:
The Egg Fire is the one pushing up to La Ronge. It currently covers 901 square kilometres, roughly five times the size of the greater Saskatoon area.
It did not move much Thursday, as the line cut from Bigstone Lake to Mile 5 hill is continuing to hold. The fire by the La Ronge airport grew a little. The massive helicopter, sky crane, was working in this area Thursday.
The Egg Fire is the largest being battled to date. Others are continuing to be fought or monitored:
Eli Fire (5 kms North of La Ronge into Sucker River)
– 23 square kilometres
– Not Contained
– Crews are there working the spot fires
Brian Fire (at Dicken’s Lake, 8 kms from Grandmother’s Bay)
– 98 square kilometres
– Crews on both sides of highway, focused on the southeast side
-2 helicopters were bucketing Thursday
Stower Fire (5-6 kms south of Hall Lake, this fire is between Emmaline Lake and Hall Lake).
– This fire is making its way to Highway 165 (Hall Lake Road)
Lynx Fire (is at Highway 915 -the Stanley Mission Road)
– Estimated 3.3 square kilometres
– Road may close with little or no notice
– Crossed road Thursday at 6 km on Highway 915 Stanley Mission jct.
– Not contained. Ongoing assessment. Many natural breaks/lakes in the area
Bow Fire (north of Hunter’s Bay by Nunn Lake)
– Estimated 2 square kilometres
– Not contained. Ongoing assessment
Bear Fire (53 kms northwest of La Ronge)
– 52 square kilometres
Bob Fire (5 kms from Highway 105)
– Two people serving values protection at McKay Lake
– Bucketing on the south east of the fire
– Ground crew working supported by the helicopter
Francis Fire (6 kms northeast of Sucker River across the water, Williams Peninsula)
– Estimated 20 square kilometres
– Not contained
Marcus Fire (7 kms southeast of Grandmother’s Bay)
– 2 square kilometres, entire Island
Follow on Twitter: @BreezyBreMc