Upper Lake Grocery Store Stays Open as Community Evacuates

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UPPER LAKE -- In the community of Upper Lake, business after business has closed as the Mendocino Complex fires blanket the region with smoke.

But the Hi-Way Grocery store is staying open.

"I've never closed for anything. I'm not going to let a little fire on the hill prevent me from doing that," Hi-Way owner Pat Lynch.

Hi-Way Grocery has been in business since 1962, even since Sunday, when a mandatory evacuation order was issued.

"I believe at this point I'm providing a service to the people who stayed," Lynch said.

Lynch's employees have left under the evacuation order, so it's just him and his wife running the store. He says business is good.

The bread aisle is stocked, chewing tobacco is sold out, but Lynch says what he's been selling the most of is beer.

"And I'm the only (store) open in town," he told FOX40.

A lot of Lynch's customers lately have been first responders and he says he didn't want to let them down.

"I've always been here for them," Lynch said. "I don't care if we have a little fire. I'm going to be here for them."

Smoke still lingers, ash is everywhere and it's unknown how long the evacuation order will be in effect, but Lynch says he'll stay open as long as he has electricity.

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