Driving through Dunsmuir, “Vacancy” signs can be seen throughout town in nearly all of the motel office windows. With the exception of Dunsmuir’s Cedar Lodge (which, according to owner Sylvia Robinson, has not been at all affected by the wildfires), the consensus among other tourism-based local business owners is that business is noticeably down this summer due to all the smoke from the Carr Fire and other wildfires in the area.
Nawin Kumar, owner of the Dunsmuir Inn & Suites, said they only had a couple families stay at their motel as a result of the Carr Fire evacuation. Kumar said, “I know our market. The smoke has taken a big-time toll” on their summer tourism business.
Kumar explained that a big part of their summer business consists of fly fishing customers; but recent posts on social media about all the smoke has kept the fly fishing customers away, negatively affecting their summer tourism business.
Likewise, Mark and Mary Lilley, owners of Railroad Park Resort, have seen a dramatic drop in their summer business. Mary Lilley said they had only three guest registrations due to the Carr Fire evacuation – “one in the campground, and two in the cabooses” – and “only one from the Lakehead fire.” Whereas, they lost all of their Brewfest reservations earlier this month when the State of Jefferson Brewfest* was cancelled due to smoke. Lilley said, “We’ve had over 215 cancellations because of smoke.”
Lilley made reference to the fact that, as a primarily summer tourism-based business, it will be a challenge for them to make it through the leaner, winter months after having lost so much of their annual business revenue this summer. Lilley said, “We’ve been praying about it. God will take care, but it’s really kind of stressing.”
Similarly, local retail businesses have also been adversely affected by all the smoke from the wildfires. Darrel Taylor, store manager of Ray’s Market in Mt. Shasta, said “Tourism is down because of all the smoke. It’s really affecting all the businesses in the area.”
The same observation was shared by several other local businesses, with the exception of the Mt. Shasta Rite-Aid. Rite-Aid’s store manager Jon Sottana has noticed “a lot of evacuees from the Carr Fire” coming into the Mt. Shasta Rite-Aid. He said, “Most (of the evacuees) were asking for basic need items, especially socks and underwear.”
Following the brief influx of evacuees from the Carr Fire in the Redding area, other retail activity seems to be limited to mostly local trade, according to spokespersons for local businesses. When asked about how the Carr Fire had affected their business, Dunsmuir’s Dollar General store manager Samantha Ward said their store was only briefly affected when Carr Fire evacuees were initially fleeing Shasta County. Ward said she was more personally affected than was their business, expressing how heartbreaking it was when evacuees were asking to sleep overnight in the store’s parking lot on the first night of the Carr Fire evacuation.
On the other hand, Pam Bresseur, floor lead at Solano’s hardware store in Mt. Shasta, said the only noticeable difference in their summer business, due to all the wildfires in the area, has been “a lot of people coming in to buy dust masks” because of all the smoke.
Even employees at the Mt. Shasta Cinema have noticed that business has been down because people don’t want to go out in all the smoke. Conversely, they have had “definitely a lot of people coming in to get out of the smoke,” according to floor staff, Elijah Sullivan. This was reiterated by Kat Ericson, assistant manager, who has also noticed more “travellers” coming into the cinema. Ericson said they “have had travellers coming in to get out of the smoke, and people coming off the Pacific Crest Trail to get away from the smoke for a couple hours.”
*Note: Originally slated for Aug. 6, Dunsmuir’s 26th annual State of Jefferson Brewfest, (sponsored by the Dunsmuir Rotary and Dunsmuir Chamber of Commerce) had to be rescheduled due to all the smoke. The Brewfest website states, “The Brewfest has been postponed to September 8, 2018, due to the Carr Fire in Redding, which has created unhealthful air quality in the area.” A percentage of the proceeds will be going to the Carr Fire Relief Fund.