EL DORADO COUNTY (CBS13) - The Caldor fire flaring up again. And seeing smoke on the horizon is not something whitewater rafting owners want to see nor the eateries that feed off them.
"The water is usually right about where we are standing," said Nate Rangel as he walked along the water's edge.
Rangel says during the second driest year on record-water is still flowing on the middle and south forth of the American River thanks to agreements between utility companies and the federal government.
"They guarantee a certain amount of flow and also to keep water in the river and keep the fish alive and to keep t flora/ fauna all healthy."
But it's the Caldor fire that left the owner of Raft California high and dry right before Labor Day.
"There were days we were looking at Air Quality index of 3,4-500 and that's not really fun or healthy," he said.
Rangel says business dipped 25%.
"What's happened to whitewater rafting companies is trickling down to area businesses. We saw a sign on the door warning of longer wait times due to staffing shortages.
"It's a struggle to keep enough staff to keep the guests happy and not overstaff because we are losing money," said general manager Paige Holden.
Holden says three bands canceled three weeks in a row because of poor air quality.
'We lost our last month of solid business to get us through the winter season," she said.
And neighboring take a bite deli lost $500-$600 a day due to Caldor closures and cancellations.
Darian Ranking said, " So we are usually packed and cars out in the street and we have people out the door from the gas station and now there is like nobody here."
"It's been an interesting year," said Rangel.
The Caldor fire coupled with the Covid and the new delta variant caused a chaotic year
"I think it's the new norm," he said with a sigh.
That's forcing many outdoor recreation companies to find new ways to stay afloat.
"I have been doing this for 40 years. And the challenges we have in a daily basis. we are up to them. but it does make the job and the service we offer--you have to be a little more creative with how you do it," he said.
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