Caldor Fire: Lake Tahoe Area Has Lost Over $45 Million in Past Two Weeks Due to Blaze

by Shelby Scott

California’s Caldor Fire continues to make headlines as the state’s second-largest active wildfire right now. The fire has burned more than 200,000 acres across the coastal state. Further, it’s consumed upwards of 920 structures. However, in addition to the physical damage sustained by Lake Tahoe‘s surrounding areas, the basin’s tourist industry has suffered significantly. Just within the last two weeks, the industry saw a loss of more than $45 million.

Following the Labor Day weekend, businesses throughout the area stated they’ve lost a good chunk of change as the Caldor Fire ripped through. Overall, The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority estimated the Caldor Fire will cost the South Lake Tahoe hotel industry $21 million. And that’s just between the last two weeks of August and the first two of September.

The Authority sees losses to the retail and restaurant industry sitting just over $19 million. And as far as the city coffers go, losses are projected to range around $4.7 million.

The numbers are, no doubt, detrimental to multiple industries within the Lake Tahoe Basin. However, matters are much worse for many businesses as they operate on a seasonal basis. Therefore, many of those people are dependent upon the summer season to bring in revenue enough to get them through the off-season.

For example, Tahoe’s boating industry, one of the area’s most popular this time of year, continues to see major losses despite reduced evacuations. Residents and tourists alike are increasingly able to return to the area. But lingering smoke still poses a threat to individuals, deterring crowds from immediately returning.

Businesses and Employees Alike Suffer Amid the Caldor Fire

The Caldor Fire, despite only being the state’s second-largest fire this year, endangers businesses and individuals alike as income is significantly reduced.

Lindsay Bryant, of Lake Tahoe Boat Rides, estimated that her business has lost between 35% and 40% of its revenue for the year. As September trudges on, peak season is just about over. And still, the Caldor Fire continues to put certain areas at risk. “We were pretty solidly booked,” she shared with The Mercury News, “And now we’ve obviously canceled and refunded everything, just about.”

Additionally, lost revenue and income are definitely intimidating as the peak season comes to a close. Regardless, business owners and employees alike try to keep their heads up as, hey, at least their buildings still stand.

Nicole Smith is a co-owner with her husband for South Lake Brewing Company. Monday saw her increasingly grateful as she and employees were able to return and reopen for business. “It was kind of a bummer because we missed Labor Day weekend, but whatever,” she told the outlet. “It’s not the end of the world,” she continued. “We can make up the revenue later, and business insurance is there for that exact reason.

Further, individuals like Dan Kramer, a boat driver for Lake Tahoe Boat Rides, lost a month and a half’s income. However, regardless of the financial loss, Kramer is keeping his head up. Previously, his home came perilously close to succumbing to Caldor’s flames. However, firefighters managed to keep his home standing.

“I’ve been trying to keep my head up about all of this stuff,” he said, “and try to take it step by step.”