“It wasn’t supposed to happen. Everyday it got closer. They don’t have this — that is when I realized they did not have this fire,” shared John Rice, Sierra-at-Tahoe’s general manager, in a two-part interview with Ski Area Management Magazine of the impacts of the Caldor Fire.
Rice relays the moment-to-moment events he witnessed as the fiery blaze came knocking at West Bowl’s proverbial doorstep and entered the ski area on Aug. 29 in the interview recently posted to the resort’s blog.
Officials have said they hope to open the ski resort, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this season, in the spring.
Sierra-at-Tahoe has sustained damage to Nob Hill and Short Stuff, and West Bowl will be inaccessible this winter. In addition, many of the in-bound tree skiing areas, such as Jack’s and Avalanche Bowl, will likely remain closed for the season, according to the resort’s blog.
Grandview Express’ haul rope, which suspends the ski lift’s chairs, was damaged during the fire and a replacement cable is currently in production in Switzerland.
“We know many of you are looking for greater clarity on exactly when Sierra will be able to welcome you back, but with over 15 feet of snow removal to tackle from December’s storms, Mother Nature is another unknown variable that will continue to impact our ability to complete the necessary repairs to restore your beloved resort,” the resort wrote in the update on its blog. “Have no doubt, that not a day has passed that we haven’t been putting in the work + with a major milestone on the horizon, we are a step closer to taking a lap with you.”
The Caldor Fire, the 15th largest wildfire recorded in California, burned 221,835 acres between Aug. 14 and Oct. 21, according to Cal Fire.
By the time it was contained, it had destroyed more than 1,000 structures, damaged 81, injured at least five people and forced some 50,000 people to evacuate from the Lake Tahoe area. Follow the Sierra-at-Tahoe’s blog for updates and to listen to the interviews. | sierraattahoe.com