Creek Fire: Bass Lake businesses take hit from both flames and pandemic

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- With summer-like conditions that have stretched well into October, if this were any other year, you'd find hundreds of boats on Bass Lake as families soaking up the sun or enjoying their end of the season burger from Miller's Landing.

"It's what makes this place so special; it's just the traditions and seeing the same people every year," said owner Michelle Miller.

Open almost 40 years, she says this was a boating season like no other. They started six weeks late because of COVID-19 restrictions and were forced to end five weeks early because of the Creek Fire.

Miller says, "It's really nerve-wracking where you live in a community where your business and home are threatened."

Based on years past, she says that the September business would have made up for the business lost to the COVID-19.

Miller says, "We were obviously very grateful to have that busy heart of the summer, but this ending is actually pretty sad because we look forward to seeing all of our customers and saying goodbye for the winter until we open in the spring and we miss that whole section."

With full containment not expected until at least Halloween, the road to recovery is a long one. Law enforcement continues to patrol the area as re-entry and re-population efforts continue.

Madera County Sheriff Tyson Pogue says, "I think people don't understand how much work goes into this. They assume once the bulk of people gets back in their homes that our involvement ends there."

Sheriff Pogue and crews spent Wednesday escorting families back to their homes and cabins to prepare for winter.

"We wouldn't let people go up there if it was a high danger area," said Sheriff Pogue.
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