Open for business
Lake Chelan coming back after firesWashington’s premiere vacation lake, Lake Chelan, is starting to get back to normal following weeks of disruption due to area wildfires. During that period the lake has been intermittently smoky and many visitors cancelled their planned trips to the area.
But with some rain and more temperate weather the last few days of August, firefighters have made great strides toward controlling the fires directly affecting the lake.
“The wind event that blew through the area on Saturday, August 30, resulted in minimal fire growth on the Chelan Complex Fire,” according to the website for the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce. “Containment lines on the north end of the fire held in spite of the wind on the First Creek Fire.”
The wind had one very positive effect on the area – the smoke cleared out and those gorgeous picture-postcard views returned to the lake. While it’s important that you check air quality forecasts here, the early days of September were forecast to have good air quality.
That’s all coming as much of a relief to Lake Chelan area businesses, who have seen their business decline dramatically during the fires. The fires came during the busiest and most profitable days of the year for businesses that cater to the usual onslaught of tourists to the Lake Chelan area in August.
But if you talk to any of the Lake Chelan merchants, the response is very consistent – yes, the fires have cost them a lot of money, but they feel they really don’t have much to complain about when dozens of Chelan-area families have lost their homes due to the fires.
There’s some evidence that residents of North Central Washington are showing support to the Lake Chelan community by planning short trips to the area for late summer and fall season. There are some blackened hills due to the fires and certain areas like a small part of the South Shore had many homes destroyed, but overall the lake is just as beautiful as people remember.
The First Creek Fire, at the end of August, was still burning near 25 Mile Creek and some of the South Shore was not accessible to visitors. But downtown Chelan and most areas where tourists go are fully accessible and have not seen a severe visual impact from the fires.
The entire region has been affected in some ways by the fires – including the residents in Okanogan County who have massive fires of their own to worry about – and there are many benefits starting to show up on the calendar to raise money for those who have lost their homes.
For those wishing to donate to the relief efforts, the Community Foundation of North Central Washington has set up a Chelan Valley Fire Relief Fund to help the victims of the area wildfires. 100% of the funds are going to help Chelan Valley Hope. Please be aware that Chelan Valley Hope is NOT in need of physical items.
For details, call Chelan Valley Hope at (509) 888-2114 or visit www.chelanvalleyhope.org.
PHOTOS: Lake Chelan
RECOMMENDED LODGING: Lake Chelan lodging
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