In addition to all the destruction, the Caldor Fire is also casting a haze over Lake Tahoe's most important industry -- tourism.
The smoke blanketing the Tahoe basin is so thick it's now considered dangerous to even be out in it, and on Wednesday morning, Tahoe recorded the most hazardous air quality anywhere on the planet.
“It’s like that all over town really. It’s like a ghost town,” said Marvin Monstgomery of Reno.
Air so thick and so hazardous that it's choked off the pipeline of visitors that breathe life into Tahoe’s economy. Shop owners said the fire and the smoke has decimated their business. It was hard enough coming out of the pandemic restrictions, but now this smoke is killing any progress they made.
Get a weekly recap of the latest San Francisco Bay Area housing news. Sign up for NBC Bay Area’s Housing Deconstructed newsletter.
“Since the fire, I am 80% down, so I don’t cover my payroll and I don’t cover my rent,” said Michel Chonez of Cabin Fever Gifts.
The business owner said the pandemic nearly drove him and some of his retail neighbors in Tahoe out of business, and now this.
“This time of the year is when we make most of our income to cover the slow months of October, November and so on,” said Chonez. “This is really hurting.”
He said his family hopes to adapt and keep going, but he worries about employees he wasn’t able to hire back and for the many people who have also been evacuated from their homes.
He doesn’t know how many of them will ever recover if they don’t get a break from the fire and the smoke soon.
“It’s two punches. One – two, some businesses are being knocked out,” Chonez said.
Business owners said they’re keeping close eyes on the forecasts. They’re hoping the winds change or even better rain comes soon.
Anything to clear the air and encourage visitors to return.