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Nor Cal Retailers Coping with Wildfires

Published July 13, 2008

PARADISE, CA (BRAIN)—Paradise, California, has been anything but recently as local retailers are dealing with massive amounts of smoke from a 49,500 acre Butte County wildfire.

At least one retailer in the area, The Bicycle Shop in Paradise, has been evacuated.

Fourteen miles west in Chico, retailers haven't been evacuated, but they are having to deal with smoke-laden skies.

"Our business has slowed down," said Alison Freeman, who works in sales for North Rim Adventure Sports. "It's pretty bad out there. It's definitely considered hazardous."

Fire officials have listed the Butte County blaze to be 65 percent contained, as 10,000 Butte County residents were cleared to return to their homes on Saturday.

According to fire officials, more than 10,000 firefighters from 47 states are battling California fires, most the cause of recent lightning strikes. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is bringing in reinforcements, with an additional 2,000 National Guard troops.

James Vandewalle, manager at Campus Bicycles in Chico, said the fires have affected business, but haven't killed it.

"[These fires] are probably going to go on for another couple weeks," Vandewalle said. "Anyone that tries to ride in this is pretty foolish."

Meanwhile, in coastal Big Sur, 116,829 acres have been charred from a local fire. While 61 percent contained, the fire was still burning on the remote east side of Los Padres National Forest, according to fire officials.

Only three weeks ago, 55 miles north along the coast in Watsonville, Fox Racing Shox was dealing with a local fire in its backyard.

"We did have a big fire and they evacuated us," said Elayna Caldwell-Grim, marketing manager for Fox Racing Shox. "There have been three [recent] fires in Santa Cruz County."

For more on how these Northern California wildfires are affecting businesses, be sure to read the Aug. 15 issue of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News.

—Jason Norman

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