Hardly business as usual after fire
Monday morning would have been a pleasant time to work outside, except for the smell of smoke that lingered in the Bijou area.
Cell phones, camp chairs and cars in the parking lot of the Lakefront Professional Building served as offices for several people displaced by a fire early Sunday morning.
How much, if anything, could be salvaged remains unknown.
“We don’t expect to be able to go in until the end of the week,” said Dick Horn, owner of Dick Horn State Farm Insurance, who usually helps others through the aftermath of fires. On Monday, Horn and his two employees conducted their own business from the Lakefront parking lot. Inquiries requiring records were referred to the corporate offices.
Kim Pevenage, a dental hygienist from Dr. Timothy Stall’s office, hung out at the back of a pickup truck.
“We’re catching patients and trying to get them to the Minden offices,” she said.
Not being able to get inside was frustrating to attorney Rachelle J. Nicolle.
“My files look intact, but they won’t let me in,” she said. “The fireman let me walk around as long as I stayed outside (the tape). I could see paper sitting in the printer.”
For now, Nicolle, Stall and other business owners have set up shop in second offices or have been invited into other businesses with spare rooms. Answering services caught calls to several business phone numbers.
Calls for Lakefront Wedding Chapel were being handled by Sealed With a Kiss gift shop, also owned by Jana Ney Walker.
The chapel, which had weddings scheduled on Sunday, was possibly the most immediately impacted by the fire. Weddings were relocated, thanks to other businesses in the community. The staff continues to work on connecting scheduled weddings with new locations.
“Tons of people have called to donate properties for weddings,” said Kim Dahlberg, one of two employees taking call after a call in the gift shop. “It’s unbelievable.”
Business owners emphasized that some way, some place, they continue to conduct business.
“The chapel’s gone, but we’re still here,” Dahlberg said.
“People see the building and the condition it’s in and associate that with the condition of all the businesses,” said building co-owner Bill Conlon, who also had his office for Bill Conlon Accountancy Corp. in the building. “Much to the contrary. The businesses are looking to relocate and are contacting clients.”
Conlon worked Monday from the office of Silver State Mortgage, one of several businesses ready to give up space to displaced businesses.
Officials from the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce expect more in the community to open their hearts, and their businesses once the needs are understood. Chamber staff hope to help connect the needs such as office space or equipment with providers.
“We’re there to try to help,” said chamber President Gail Taylor. “Once (business owners) figure out what their needs are, call us and let us know and we’ll contact our members who might be able to offer help.”
Those with needs should fax them to the chamber at (530) 541-7121.
“These things happen,” Horn, of State Farm Insurance, said. “(The community response) has been very positive. We’re very happy no one was hurt. Community support, State Farm, and the phone calls and the hugs have been tremendous.”
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