Displaced by fire: Locals find places to stay
June 29, 2007
Residents and visitors displaced from their homes by the Angora fire ran into more difficulties as 100,000 visitors began to descend on Lake Tahoe for the mid-week Fourth of July celebration.
While several Stateline area and South Lake Tahoe hotels put up fire victims free of charge or at a deeply discounted rate through noon checkout Friday, several had to clear space for incoming guests, leaving some to scramble for other temporary housing.
“We were told this morning we had to leave our hotel,” said San Diego resident Diana Graves, who was vacationing last weekend with her family in the Angora Lakes region and on Friday was still waiting on whether the family could return to see if any of their travel possessions survived the blaze. “It just got complicated. We don’t have any of our stuff. We need a place to stay and are kicked out.”
Red Cross spokeswoman Amber Beck said staff and volunteers were getting offers Friday from local residents and part-time homeowners not affected by the fire.
“Several people who are not coming up this weekend have offered their cabins,” Beck said. “There is opportunity there.”
Harrah’s/Harveys was also continuing to accommodate victims, though spokesman John Packer said the number of displaced victims being housed by the twin Stateline hotels had dramatically decreased by Friday.
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“At the highest point we had about 100 staying with us, 47 employees and 55 or 60 referred to us by the Red Cross,” he said. “As of Friday, we were down to two employees and seven who came over from the Red Cross. If they need to stay through the weekend, they can, all complimentary.”
Packer said a number of those staying temporarily at the hotels are now staying with friends and families, and even a handful have already rented new homes.
At the apex, 300 employees of the hotels were evacuated.
Business may be slowly picking up at Stateline as word spreads the fire is closer to containment.
“We were 100 percent booked on Sunday,” Packer said. “We were down about 20 percent from that this week, now we’re starting to get calls booking for the Fourth of July week again.”
“Particularly if you’re not familiar with Tahoe, you think all of Tahoe’s on fire — beginning yesterday we noticed the news media was starting to look at the incredible job fire is doing and turning toward the economic story. But our first priority was to make sure everyone’s OK.”
In that spirit, Harrah’s/Harveys is planning a series of summer benefit concerts for victims. The first of which is tentatively slated for Aug. 11.
“We got a call from Sammy Hagar, who was on vacation in Italy,” Packer said. “He wanted to know what he could do to help – so he’s calling people he knows in the industry and we’re going to put something together.”
What to do:
Evacuee Housing Available — South Tahoe Association of Realtors has a list of furnished homes being offered for long term rental to fire victims. Call (530) 541-7007 or email STAOR@Pacbell.net for information.