SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (KTXL) — Friday was supposed to mark the start of a three-day Labor Day weekend in the south shores of Lake Tahoe for many visitors, but with evacuation orders for the Caldor Fire in place, the South Lake Tahoe area is nearly a ghost town.
Now, the smoke-filled city is filled only with first responders.
“It’s been a couple of gut-punches for local businesses,” said Steve Teshara, with the Tahoe Chamber of Commerce.
Labor Day weekend is a major holiday for the region, bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors to the area. Because of the closures, businesses stand to lose millions.
“In 48 years of Tahoe, I have not seen anything like this in terms of the layering of multiple crises on top of each other,” said Teshara. “I haven’t seen the wholesale evacuation of South Shore.”
South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tamara Wallace said the timing of the evacuations isn’t helping local businesses.
“The economic impact of this and, plus, you have a huge holiday weekend — sort of our last hurrah — and I would say it’s upwards of $50 million,” Wallace said.
Wallace, also with a background in the chamber of commerce, said she has spoken with business owners who are barely holding on.
“This has been an interesting last 18 months with COVID, bouncing back from COVID — now this,” said Wallace. “We need a break for sure.”
But Wallace and Teshara are amazed at the efforts firefighters have made to save homes and businesses in the Tahoe Basin — a little good news during these difficult times.
“It’s better to lose a holiday than an entire community,” Teshara said.
Wallace said the city is working on getting federal relief and seeing what they can do to help businesses through these times, with the hope that people come back to support the region when the fire is contained.