Campground feels impact of Angora fire: 15 Minutes with Lee Martin
Lee Martin is a gatehouse attendant at South Lake Tahoe’s Campground by the Lake, 1150 Rufus Allen Blvd. The campground is operated by the South Lake Tahoe Parks and Recreation Department, and is open from April through October. The comments made by Martin are his own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the South Lake Tahoe Parks and Recreation Department.
Q: How was the Campground by the Lake affected by the Angora fire?
A: From a tourist’s point of view, we had a lot of people that canceled their reservations a few days before the Fourth – broke up some family reunions and such. From a more personal perspective, we had some people that were evacuated – some of our coworkers that were evacuated from their homes, so it affected the workplace. It was emotional.
Q: Was the Campground by the Lake doing anything for those evacuees?
A: Yeah, if there were mandatory evacuations, since the evacuation center was the Rec Center – which is all city, the campground being city-owned and operated as well – we were working with them(the Rec Center). If we couldn’t get them a room in a hotel, or if they had a trailer or something like that, we would put them up for an indefinite amount of time.
Fortunately, most of those people that we did that for … got to go back to their homes after two or three days.
Q: Were most people calling to cancel their reservations understanding about the situation in South Lake?
A: You know, I found it really surprising the amount of people that were worried about non-life-and-death matters, when it seemed like everybody else was worried about more life and death matters at a time like that – everybody who had homes and friends who lived in that area. It was real emotional, and people were just trying to be there for friends, family and neighbors.
At the same time it was business as usual, people calling, canceling, looking for their refunds – it was hard to go about business as usual with (the fire) going on.
Q: How was this Fourth of July compared to past years?
A: You know, you wouldn’t have noticed (a difference) if you came on the actual Fourth of July, but the two and three days before, so many people canceled their reservations that people were able to give a call last minute and we had spots available for them, so a lot of people lucked out. We usually sell out six months in advance for the Fourth of July.
Q: Was the campground still as busy this year as it has been in past years?
A: The actual Fourth of July was; the weekend before wasn’t. We lost a (good) amount of business. But then when the Fourth hit I think everyone – and the smoke had literally subsided – everybody kind of played it by ear and came up. It was a little slower across the street, but the actual campground itself was sold out, so you can’t get anymore sold out than sold out.
Q: What does the rest of the summer look like for the campground?
A: We were surprised at the amount of people who called and canceled (for) August. I didn’t get to see any of the national news coverage, but people calling from far away seemed a little freaked out by what they were seeing on T.V., and hearing on the news. But, I think most of them at this point got it, and played it by ear, and saw that now that we have (the fire) contained and have control of the situation, they’re good to come.