The distinct smell of smoke permeated the lobby of the Resort on Mount Charleston Thursday morning.
Outside, the ash-filled pond bore signs of fire, while the back side of the building looks like it was kissed by smoke. The HVAC system, too, was filled with ash.
Although that’s about the extent of the direct fire damage, there’s still a cost.
Since the Fourth of July, both the resort and the Mount Charleston Lodge have been closed due to evacuation, costing both properties thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
Employees at both have gone without pay for two weeks, and about $10,000 in food products were damaged at the lodge. Some of the 40 employees of the Siegel Group-owned resort were placed in other company properties when possible, to pick up shifts where available .
Siegel Senior Vice President Michael Crandall said the property suffered a large loss as a result of evacuation, in the form of room revenue and about 15 canceled events. Among the cancellations were a wedding, corporate retreat and family reunion. Both the resort and the lodge have business interruption insurance.
For the last two years, July has been the lodge’s busiest month.
“To lose two weeks this time of year is pretty devastating for us,” General Manager Thomas Schneekloth said.
On weekdays in July, the lodge sees about 700 people a day, and that number jumps to about 1,300 on weekends.
On the Fourth of July, about 200 customers were evacuated from the Mount Charleston Lodge, and roughly another 75 from the resort.
At an elevation of 7,717 feet, the lodge rests at the top of Highway 157, a location that benefited the business during the wildfire. It was so high the fire didn’t reach the building, Schneekloth said.
He and his 55-person staff serve breakfast, lunch and dinner plus operate a lounge. On July Fourth, Schneekloth wasn’t sure that tradition would continue: For the first time, he could see flames from the lodge, as a result of the wildfire breaking through the ridgeline behind the building at Cathedral Rock.
“It was a little bit surreal,” Schneekloth said.
Shortly thereafter, the lodge staff and customers were told to evacuate. Almost two weeks later, 15 employees and Schneekloth are back, cleaning up and assessing the damage.
“When we came back we saw a tremendous burned area coming up the mountain, about five miles down from the lodge. We were extremely fortunate at our location, but the rest of the mountain didn’t fair as well,” he said.
The lodge suffered no permanent damage. On Wednesday , it passed the board of health inspection after cleaning and throwing out old food . The resort, too, suffered a large food inventory loss.
Employees of both businesses were allowed back up to the mountain Wednesday and crews worked all day Thursday to get them ready to reopen today. US Foods delivered fresh food to both Thursday, and DirectTV technicians worked to get the resort back online.
Coming up to the resort for the first time since the wildfire, Crandall said “it was nerve-wracking, not knowing if I was going to see all black around me.”
On Thursday, the lodge staff was receiving deliveries and preparing to open today from noon to 5 p.m., with a 5 p.m. dinner party for all Mount Charleston residents. All of the 50-person staff will be back on the payroll once the lodge reopens.
The Resort on Mount Charleston opens at noon today. Access to Mount Charleston on state Routes 156 and 157 will open to the public at 8 a.m. today. The only trails that will be open are Bristlecone, Trail Canyon to Highway 158, Robbers Roost, Telephone Canyon, Fletcher Canyon, Mary Jane Falls and North Loop to the junction with Trail Canyon.
On July 31, the resort will host a celebration to thank those who helped during the fire. Mount Charleston residents are welcome to attend the event.
The Forest Service on Thursday announced Aug. 18 as the estimated date for full containment of the fire. The blaze is 95 percent contained.
Because of steep terrain, the agency predicts it will take at least an inch of rain to extinguish what’s left of the fire.
Contact reporter Laura Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4588. Follow @lscvegas on Twitter.