Ham Lake Fire May 23, 2007

5/23 roadblocks

Yesteday the road block at the Cross River was removed and once again traffic was allowed to travel to the end of the Gunflint Trail.  Members of the Gunflint Trail Association and the community at large gathered together to celebrate the re-opening.

Some Gunflint Trail Association members have been focusing on the re-growth of the Gunflint Trail and we applaud their efforts.  Yesterday, after the ribbon was cut,  people gathered at the Blankenburg Landing on Seagull Lake to plant some trees.  They will also be planting trees this Memorial Weekend and have put together some information and resources for homeowners in an effort to make sure the proper species are planted in our delicate area.  We are so grateful to these people for keeping such a careful eye on our woods.

While most people were excited at yesterday’s ribbon cutting I had mixed feelings.  I wasn’t really celebrating but mentally taking a note of what the Road Block meant to me and possibly others who fought the fire first hand.

This road block at the Cross River wasn’t the only one during the Ham Lake Fire. I don’t mean there were other physical barriers that kept us off of the Trail, that there were, but the road blocks many of us met each day, hour or minute of the fire.  The road blocks that were thrown in front of us on that Sunday when the fire raced towards the homes and properties at the end of the Gunflint Trail.

I still think about those road blocks every day; the properties without water access, sprinkler systems that didn’t work and the cabins that weren’t easily accessible with a fire truck.  Other road blocks such as homeowners not wanting to evacuate, not enough resources for the extent of the fire and the unpredictable walls of flames.  Where was it safe?  How could we stop it?  What to do, when to go, what to take and where to go during the evacuation.   These were just a few of the road blocks we were faced with, just on the first day of the fire.

If only we could have taken a scissors and cut a ribbon to eliminate all of those road blocks we were met with…

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