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Business owners stay behind to help people fleeing, fighting Manitoba wildfire

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As Cranberry Portage residents fled from a raging wildfire with whatever they were able to grab, owners of a gas station in Cranberry Portage stayed behind to help the people who were trying to save the community from going up in flames.

Melissa and Blair Lundie have owned MnB’s Gas Bar for the past four years. When the order to evacuate was given, the owners made sure they kept a generator running so they could continue pumping gas.

“It was an essential need to get the gas going,” Blair said. “Otherwise it was an hour to get gas.”

Blair said their parking lot was full of people trying to escape the fire.

After things settled down, the couple, who were still at the gas station, realized those left behind fighting the fire hadn’t been fed.

“Everybody was looking pretty slow and sluggish by that time,” Melissa said. “So I started cooking because we’ve got to feed them to keep them going.”

Blair and Melissa Lundie talking about staying behind in Cranberry Portage at their gas station MnB's Gas Bar to help save the community on May 17, 2024. (CTV News Winnipeg)

“It was right up my alley. I enjoy cooking for big groups. My granny taught me well.”

Melissa has been cooking roasts, meatballs, moose soup and other meals for the firefighters, who she said have been grateful for their assistance

“They’re eating and getting out, but they’re very appreciative of the food they’re getting,” she said. “So that makes me happy.”

The couple has been getting words of encouragement from people in the community, and outside of it.

“The school in Lac du Bonnet made me a poster that said stay strong,” Blair said. “That was very sweet of them.”

With residents from the community allowed to come back Sunday, Melissa and Blair are looking forward to seeing some of their regular customers.

“We can't wait to open up the slush machine and start giving free slushes to all the kids that come back to the town,” Blair said. “That’s how excited we are.”

-With files from CTV's Daniel Halmarson.

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