ALTA LAKE, Wash. – It’s the furthest thing from a standard Sunday at Alta Lake State Park. When the Carlton Complex fire ripped through part of its campground last Thursday night, the clean up began almost immediately. In all, almost 80 of their 120 campsites will be unusable for the rest of the year and 150 acres of its land was burned.
“I’m just in the middle of doing an inventory of tables and posts and signs,” Park Ranger Sharon Soelter said. “You walk through here and it’s just dust and bare rock.”
Normally this is the busiest time of year for the state park.
“By this time of year our loops are booked solid until Labor Day weekend,” Soelter said. “We’re park rangers. This is what we wait for is the summertime. The time when everybody can come out and enjoy what we work for.”
So many businesses across Central Washington are reliant on summer tourism dollars, but now they have no money coming in.
“We have no boats tied to the dock here,” Lake Pateros Inn Owner Matt Horey said. “It’s our prime season.”
Horey has owned the Lake Pateros Inn on the Columbia River since 2001, but this is the first time the River has been completely quiet in July. Without power and running water, he was forced to close his motel for the past 9 days.
“We’re small businessmen, so everyday hurts,” Horey said. “Two weeks is devastating.”
Horey said he is hopeful that his place will be up and running next weekend. Despite the devastation he still wants families to consider a summer vacation in Central Washington.
“By people coming in that’s going to help the healing process tremendously,” Horey said. “I want to encourage all of our friends on the west side, all of our customers, all of our friends and family to come over and visit. We’re still going to do good things.”