Fireworks expected to go on: But July 4 activities may be reevaluated based on fire activity
The Angora fire’s timing is slightly reminiscent of 2002, when a cigarette butt was dropped near Tower 11 of the Heavenly Gondola just before the South Shore’s biggest holiday in its busiest season.
But for now, the July 4 festivities and fireworks, billed as the largest west of the Mississippi, will go on. This is according to tourism officials who will be evaluating the state of the Angora fire, which on Monday had consumed more than 2,500 acres and 225 homes and other structures along the way.
Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, a member of the Lake Tahoe Gaming Alliance that sponsors the holiday night event, has discussed with the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority and Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce the idea of evaluating whether the show should go on.
For now, that answer is yes – but stay tuned as firefighters continue to battle a blaze that could be kicked up by winds expected to increase by Wednesday.
As for summer tourism, the jury is still out on the fire’s effect beyond July 4.
“It’s too soon to estimate. Right now, the focus is on safety,” chamber Executive Director Betty “B” Gorman said, supporting law enforcement’s blocked access at Lake Tahoe Boulevard and “D” Street leading to South Tahoe High School.
She believed the $1 billion estimate of economic losses released by the state was high.
LTVA Executive Director Patrick Kaler agreed with the assessment that it’s premature to know the effects.
He did indicate South Shore lodging properties had not received “any cancellations,” but some have inquired about whether they should come.
But with roads closed in an isolated, residential area, Kaler and Gorman believe the experience of Tahoe can still be had on the major highways.
“The visitor is not going to see damage from the fire,” she said. “What we can do is continue to support each other and keep the economy going.”
And El Dorado County Sheriff Jeff Neves supported the idea of tourists enjoying the Tahoe experience.
“There’s no reason at this point why anyone should change their plans,” he said.
The Gondola fire didn’t stop the fireworks show and tourism overall, as many people came up to the mountains curious or committed.
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