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Fort McMurray wildfire: Mariana Lake Lodge staff work tirelessly to care for evacuees

Click to play video 'Evacuees find refuge on Highway 63' Evacuees find refuge on Highway 63
WATCH ABOVE: About 100 families forced out by the Fort McMurray wildfire found refuge on Highway 63 at the Mariana Lake work camp. As Kendra Slugoski reports, repair crews are now moving in – May 9, 2016

MARIANA LAKE, ALTA. — Six a.m. and the dining room is full. The kitchen staff have been up since midnight, prepping food for the hungry and weary evacuees and support workers.

It’s been a long week for staff at Mariana Lake Lodge, still every person working is smiling and eager to show you where to get a coffee. That task was made a little more complicated with a boil water advisory in place.

Civeo said in the past week, its 10 Fort McMurray-area camps, including the Mariana Lake Lodge, have provided beds for 6,000 people and served 20,000 meals. Kendra Slugoski, Global News
Civeo said in the past week, its 10 Fort McMurray-area camps, including the Mariana Lake Lodge, have provided beds for 6,000 people and served 20,000 meals. Kendra Slugoski, Global News
Civeo said in the past week, its 10 Fort McMurray-area camps, including the Mariana Lake Lodge, have provided beds for 6,000 people and served 20,000 meals. Kendra Slugoski, Global News

Mariana Lake Lodge, owned by Civeo Corporation, is about an hours drive south of Fort McMurray. Civeo operates ten lodges in the Fort McMurray region and is normally the home base for highway, oil and utility workers.

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Spring has been slow — until now.

On Wednesday, the night after Fort McMurray residents ran for their lives, Civeo found refuge for 3,000 people, including children. In the past week, the camps have provided beds for 6,000 people and served 20,000 meals.

“It’s been pretty hectic,” said Mariana Lake Lodge Camp Manager Rod Pickrell. “We’ve been really lucky, I’ve got the A team.”

A woman prepares food at the evacuee camp for people fleeing the Fort McMurray wildfires in Wandering River, Alberta, Canada, Monday May 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
People walk inside at the evacuee camp for people who fled the Fort McMurray wildfires in Wandering River, Alberta, Canada, Monday May 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
Fort McMurray wildfire evacuee Sklyar Saunders smiles at the evacuee camp in Wandering River, Alberta, Canada, Monday May 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
A man walks through the evacuee camp for the people who fled the Fort McMurray wildfires in Wandering River, Alberta, Canada, Monday May 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
Fort McMurray evacuee Marissa Gagnon smiles as she eats lunch with her family at the evacuee camp in Wandering River, Alberta, Canada, Monday May 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
Fort McMurray wildfire evacuee Sofia Valdez plays pool at the evacuee camp in Wandering River, Alberta, Canada, Monday May 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark BlinchTHE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
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Fort McMurray evacuee Trese Tandari holds her cats inside her room at the evacuee camp in Wandering River, Alberta, Canada, Monday May 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
Fort McMurray evacuee Trese Tandari sits on her bed inside her room at the evacuee camp in Wandering River, Alberta, Canada, Monday May 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
Fort McMurray evacuee Trese Tandari holds her cats inside her room at the evacuee camp in Wandering River, Alberta, Canada, Monday May 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
Fort McMurray evacuee Trese Tandari holds her cats inside her room at the evacuee camp in Wandering River, Alberta, Canada, Monday May 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
Fort McMurray wildfire evacuees Paola Valdez, left, walks with her daughter Sofia at the evacuee camp in Wandering River, Alberta, Canada, Monday May 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
Fort McMurray wildfire evacuees Sklyar Saunders, second right, her sister Serena, and their parents Heather and Matthew Saunders get ready to leave the evacuee camp in Wandering River, Alberta, Canada, Monday May 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
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Fort McMurray evacuees Paola Valdez plays a game of table hockey with her husband Luis Valdez at the evacuee camp in Wandering River, Alberta, Canada, Monday May 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
Fort McMurray wildfire evacuee Sofia Valdez watches her family play a game of table hockey at the evacuee camp in Wandering River, Alberta, Canada, Monday May 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

Pickrell said half of the rooms were shut down. On a moments notice, Civeo doubled its staff and is now home base for swarms of RCMP and ATCO employees.

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As a retired member of the Canadian military, Pickrell is used to setting up camps in the middle of nowhere. His service tours include Kosovo, Bosnia and Afghanistan. This time is different. Military personnel are used to camp life — but last week families showed up.

“We have families, we have kids,” said Pickrell. “You want to treat them different.”

Watch below: Aerial footage shows the devastation in Fort McMurray’s Abasand and Beacon Hill neighbourhoods

Click to play video 'Fort McMurray wildfire: Aerial footage of the destruction in Abasand and Beacon Hill' Fort McMurray wildfire: Aerial footage of the destruction in Abasand and Beacon Hill
Fort McMurray wildfire: Aerial footage of the destruction in Abasand and Beacon Hill – May 7, 2016

Fleeing the flames and nowhere to go, many families showed up with nothing. Staff provided gas, food and anything else that was needed. A hallway table was full of donated clothes, pet food and stuffed animals for the kids.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire: resident in convoy through community calls scene ‘very Apocalyptic’ 

Most of the 100 or so families have moved on, but RCMP and support staff could be here for the long haul.

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To keep up with the cooking and cleaning, the camps began juggling and swapping out staff that have been evacuated from other northern camps.

“As they shut down they say ‘Hey we have this, can you use it?'”

Like everyone else responding to the wildfire disaster, Mariana Lake Lodge is prepared to help out as long as it can. For families, Pickrell said his camp will do what it can to make them feel comfortable.

“They’re not used to this, they have a loss.”

Click here for a full list of Fort McMurray wildfire coverage.

Another look at a devastating wildfire as it rips through Fort McMurray. Uploaded to Facebook by a firefighter and EMT with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo on May 6, 2016. Date and exact location of photo is unknown. CREDIT: Facebook/ Troy Palmer
Another look at a devastating wildfire as it rips through Fort McMurray. Uploaded to Facebook by a firefighter and EMT with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo on May 6, 2016. Date and exact location of photo is unknown. CREDIT: Facebook/ Troy Palmer
Photos of the devastating wildfire burning through Fort McMurray. Uploaded to Facebook by a firefighter and EMT with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo on May 6, 2016. Date and exact location of photo is unknown. CREDIT: Facebook/ Troy Palmer
Photos of the devastating wildfire burning through Fort McMurray. Uploaded to Facebook by a firefighter and EMT with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo on May 6, 2016. Date and exact location of photo is unknown. CREDIT: Facebook/ Troy Palmer
A look at the catastrophic damage caused by a wildfire in Fort McMurray. Uploaded to Facebook by a firefighter and EMT with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo on May 6, 2016. Date and exact location of photo is unknown. CREDIT: Facebook/ Troy Palmer
Scott Olson/Getty Images
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Smoke rises from a wildfire 30km south of Fort McMurray, Alberta on highway 63 Friday, May 6, 2016. Officials said shifting winds were giving the embattled northern Alberta city a break, but they added the fire that forced 80,000 people from their homes remained out of control and was likely to burn for weeks. Jonathan Hayward, The Canadian Press
Thumbs up from evacuee leaving Fort McMurray with the convoy.
RCMP say goodbye to evacuees leaving Ft McMurray during convoy operations. Courtesy: Alberta RCMP
ŖCMP being briefed during convoy operations. Courtesy: Alberta RCMP
RCMP and Fire departments work together in response to the Fort McMurray Wildfire. Courtesy: Alberta RCMP
RCMP and Fire departments work together in response to the Fort McMurray Wildfire. Courtesy: Alberta RCMP
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A chopper lands near the intersection of Highway 63 and Highway 881 on May 6, 2016. Nathan Gross, Global News
Exhausted firefighters in Fort McMurray take a rest. Uploaded to Facebook by a firefighter and EMT with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo on May 6, 2016. Date and exact location of photo is unknown. CREDIT: Facebook/ Troy Palmer
A truck drives toward a wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alta., on Friday, May 6, 2016. An ever-changing, volatile situation is fraying the nerves of residents and officials alike as a massive wildfire continues to bear down on the Fort McMurray area of northern Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Aerial view of highway 63 south of Fort McMurray taken from a CH-146 Griffon helicopter on May 5, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces have air assets deployed in support of the Province of Alberta's wildfire emergency response efforts. Photo by: Imaging EN2016-0060-20. MCPL VanPutten, 3 CSDB
Aerial view of highway 63 south of Fort McMurray taken from a CH-146 Griffon helicopter on May 5, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces have air assets deployed in support of the Province of Alberta's wildfire emergency response efforts. Photo by:Imaging EN2016-0060-12. MCPL VanPutten, 3 CSDB
Aerial view of highway 63 south of Fort McMurray taken from a CH-146 Griffon helicopter on May 5, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces have air assets deployed in support of the Province of Alberta's wildfire emergency response efforts. Photo by: MCPL VanPutten, 3 CSDB Imaging
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Aerial view of highway 63 south of Fort McMurray taken from a CH-146 Griffon helicopter on May 5, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces have air assets deployed in support of the Province of Alberta's wildfire emergency response efforts. Photo by: MCPL VanPutten, 3 CSDB Imaging
A giant fireball is seen as a wildfire rips through the forest 16 kilometres south of Fort McMurray, Alta. on Highway 63 Saturday, May 7, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward.
A giant fireball is seen as a wildfire rips through the forest along Highway 63, 16kilometres south of Fort McMurray, Alta., Saturday, May 7, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Buildings destroyed by a wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alta., are shown in this May 6, 2016, handout still from video. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Smoke rises from buildings destroyed by a wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alta., in this May 6, 2016, handout still from video. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Buildings destroyed by a wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alta., are shown in this May 6, 2016, handout still from video. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
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Flames flare up from hotspots from a wildfire along a highway to Fort McMurray, Alberta on Sunday, May 8, 2016. Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press
A helicopter drops water on a wildfire 16 kilometres south of Fort McMurray, Alta. on Highway 63, Sunday, May 8, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A helicopter is seen near a wildfire16 kilometres south of Fort McMurray, Alta. on Highway 63, Sunday, May 8, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward.
Helicopters prepare to drop water on hot spots along the highway to Fort McMurray, Alta. on Sunday, May 8, 2016.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz.
Flames flare up from hotspots from a wildfire along a highway to Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, Sunday, May 8, 2016. Officials said Sunday they reached a turning point in fighting an enormous wildfire, hoping to get a "death grip'" on the blaze that devastated Canada's oil sands town of Fort McMurray amid cooler temperatures and light rain. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT. Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP