Threat remains for Tahoe ski resorts as Caldor fire burns in Tahoe Basin

Beloved by skiers and riders across the West, several Tahoe hill stations are now threatened by the Caldor Fire as it spreads through the Tahoe Basin.

But on Tuesday afternoon, preliminary reports from industry officials said resorts could have fared far worse in the 191,000-acre blaze on the edge of South Lake Tahoe.

Heavenly and Kirkwood – owned by Vail Resorts – suffered no property damage Tuesday afternoon, according to Susan Whitman, senior director of communications and marketing at the two mountain huts. However, all employees and guests were forced to leave, she confirmed in an email.

“For Kirkwood and Heavenly, we continue to work closely with Cal Fire, the United States Forest Service fire team, local fire departments and other local organizations who have helped us prepare and protect the structure of our complexes, ”said Whitman. “We have offered our support to these organizations and made our facilities available to emergency responders.”

Homewood Mountain Resort, located on the West Rim of Tahoe and north of the evacuation area, is also under fire watch.

“Due to the proximity of the Caldor fire to Homewood, we are monitoring the situation closely. Our hearts and thoughts are focused on the safety of our employees, our community and the fire personnel working on this rapid fire. “the resort said in a statement. statement sent by email. “Our team has been in close contact with the fire services to provide access to the mountain as needed, and we are ready to support their efforts in any way we can.”

Long exposure view from the camera, a snow machine throws water as the Caldor Fire burns at the Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort on Monday, August 30, 2021, in the Eldorado National Forest , in California.  The main buildings at the base of the ski slope survived the passage of the main fire front.  (AP Photo / Noah Berger)

The fire did indeed pass through Sierra-at-Tahoe, a resort on the west side of the Tahoe Basin near Echo Summit, but early reports indicated that the base area, lodge, administration building and the equipment store were saved, according to Mike Reitzell, president of Ski California, an organization that represents ski resorts in California and Nevada.

“We know there is going to be damage,” Reitzell said. “The firefighters and first responders who were there to protect Sierra did a great job. There are some natural aspects of ski resorts that really help with firefighting. We have more open space.

The ski industry, he said, has been preparing for a fire of this magnitude for years. Snowmaking equipment, set up in advance, was used to help fight the fire,

“This is not a wake-up call for the industry,” Reitzell said. “Everyone has fire plans… and has gone to great lengths to prepare.”

Last year, China Peak, located east of Fresno, suffered minor damage in the Creek Fire that burned nearly 380,000 acres. The resort was able to operate for the 2020-2021 ski season, and Reitzell said he was optimistic for the next ski and riding season.

“We expect all of our resorts to offer a full range of skiing and horseback riding in the winter. The fire is not over and we have not stepped out of the woods of the other fires either, but we are optimistic, ”he said.

Amy Alonzo covers the Outdoors, Recreation, and Environment for Nevada and Lake Tahoe. Contact her at [email protected] Here’s how you can support continuous coverage and local journalism.

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