Creek Fire: Shaver Lake businesses prepare for customers to return

Since the road to Shaver Lake has now reopened, many homeowners and businesses are cleaning up and trying to resume life as it was before the Creek Fire.
SHAVER LAKE, Calif. (KFSN) -- As the areas around Shaver Lake begin to repopulate, local businesses are preparing for residents - and eventually visitors - to return.

"We are already getting phone calls, today and yesterday we had so many, just asking if we were already open," said Angelina Cox. She and Lauren Patino were hard at work this weekend cleaning the Hungry Hut.

"When we came back, we pulled out the whole kitchen, all the grills, burners and everything and it was kinda nasty, but it was worth it," Cox said. The store has been empty for weeks after the town was evacuated due to the Creek Fire.

To help businesses prepare for customers to return, firefighters have been helping to clear trash and spoiled produce from the stores.

"We'll stop by every store and every business and we'll ask them, how can we help you guys," said Captain Emmanuel of Chavez with the Fresno Fire Department.

"They've just been so happy to see us there and we've been received with hugs and they're just so grateful to see us there."
"We want to put out a very big, big thank you out to all the firefighters, all the first responders, all the police, everybody," said Randi Terrio. She manages Bob's Market in Shaver Lake and has been helping prep the store for reopening. At this time, there's no date for a reopen, but they're getting ready for returning residents.

"People really love the Shaver area and they want to show their support, which I appreciate," she said.

But cleaning up wasn't the only way firefighters were helping out businesses.

On Monday, at the Hungry Hut, firefighters showed up by the dozen to enjoy a burger, fries, and a shake.

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As the areas around Shaver Lake begin to repopulate, local businesses are preparing for residents - and eventually visitors - to return.

"We're just happy to give back to them because we know they've suffered the last three or four weeks. They lost out on probably one of the busiest holidays of the year, Labor Day weekend, when we forced them out of here on Saturday morning," said Mike Bowman with CAL FIRE.

Chris Bridger, who is with the Clovis Fire Department, added: "This community has taken a pretty hard hit and so with them being open today, it's a great opportunity for us to come back and support local businesses so kinda get them back on their feet, and we're thrilled to do it."

As a 'thank you', firefighters and first responders were given 15% discounts on their food and drinks.

"It's just one of our ways to show how thankful we are that they've not only saved our homes but also where we live and where we work and where we put a lot of our time and passion into," said Elisabeth Deniston, a cashier at the Hungry Hut.

Down the street, employees at Shaver Lake Pizza were busy scrubbing down the kitchen. They had to toss out 525 pounds of cheese that spoiled during the three-week closure. Managers are hoping to be serving pizzas again Thursday night.

As restaurants also worked to reopen, many homeowners also returned to their mountain homes.

The first chore for many was cleaning out rotten food that went bad when the power shut off weeks ago.

"We got up here this morning and we knew our priority was going to be to open up the house and clean out the refrigerators. We knew that was going to be the project for the day and it was. It was terrible," said one resident, Steve Mitchell.

Piles of decomposed food waited at homes curbside and firefighters went around collecting it and hauling it away.

Fire crews will be continuing to work with local businesses and helping them reopen in the coming days. Evacuation orders in parts of Shaver Lake have been lifted. For an up-to-date list of evacuation orders, click here.

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