Vacation businesses around Lake Berryessa were gearing up for what should have been a lucrative Fourth of July when the County Fire rapidly tore through more than 72,000 acres on the lake's eastern rim. Some owners had hoped the middle-of-the-week holiday would lead to an extended bump in revenue. Now they're facing possible evacuations.
"We were going to have a pretty full week of campers and cabin rentals," says Terry Sparkman, general manager of Pleasure Cover Resort and Marina. "But when the sheriff came through this morning with the advisory evacuation, most people took it to heart and they packed their stuff and left."
Sparkman and others are reminded of last year’s Winters, Atlas and Tubbs fires, which prompted mandatory evacuations in the area throughout the summer and fall. This continuous threat, they say, is taking its toll on local revenue.
Sparkman says he can traditionally expect to have approximately 75-80% of their campgrounds and cabins rented out ahead of Independence Day.
Now he's proceeding with caution, declining to book any new rentals and rescheduling existing camping or boating rentals. The risk is that a change in conditions could have companies scrambling to recall boaters off the water.