Canada — A forest fire that blazed through Timmins in May did more than scorch soil and wither trees. It burned its way into the wallets of hundreds of companies whose business depends on the town’s natural beauty.
“The fire couldn’t have happened at a worse time,” said Guy Lamarche, spokesman for the City of Timmins.
“The May 15th long weekend is usually the opening weekend for their operations. They are usually fairly booked with Americans and Canadians visiting the area.”
The camps, said Lamarche, fell within the fire evacuation zone, making them inaccessible to tourists, crippling the initial summer kickoff.
“Those operating in the greater Timmins area would have been effected as well,” he said.
And some are still feeling the burn.
“I’ve be told that Camp Tatachikapika was still out of bounds,” he said. “It is still part of the restriction zone and when you consider that, those represent significant losses for those that run seasonal businesses.”
The scarred landscape means the effects could be long-lasting.
“The long-term issues may run longer than people might think,” Lamarche said. “Obviously, some of the camps that have been seriously effected by the fire will have to deal with the lack of aesthetic value that comes with certain areas.
“Tourists will, more than likely, look for areas that are still scenic instead of an area that is burned out.”
That means lost business inside the town, too.
“We’ve got significant impact that his been felt by grocery stores, gas stations, the accommodation sector, beer stores and LCBO,” he said. “Tackle and camping suppliers, these are all businesses that succeed on the presence of tourists and outdoor enthusiasts.”