Loon Lake, B.C. resorts draw 'curious' wildfire tourists
The Marigold Fishing Resort has guests who want to see damage
Ken Ebert forces the corners of his mouth to curl up into a grin as he walks by the melted plaque that once paid tribute to his late father.
Ebert — whose family has run the Evergreen Fishing Resort on Loon Lake about 120 kilometres northwest of Kamloops for more than 60 years — even makes a noise that resembles a chuckle when he points to the six cabins that burned during last summer's wildfire.
It's only when he ventures over to the empty space where his family's lodge used to stand that the smiles and laughs disappear.
"It breaks my heart to look that way and see it gone," he said, adding he and his wife were married there nearly 60 years ago. "That darned fire."
Ebert is one of many Loon Lake residents whose properties were damaged by the inferno that swallowed up their tiny community.
Evergreen lost nearly two months of revenue when the resort was placed on evacuation order last July, and no tourists came to visit during peak season.
They're booked solid through this summer but with fewer cabins to rent, they're not as profitable as they used to be.
Ebert says he's just happy his family is still in business.
"In a way, kind of a miracle happened because they thought this whole place would just be ashes," he said.
"Why it isn't, I don't know. The good Lord was with us, I guess."
A couple of kilometres down the road from the Eberts is the Marigold Fishing Resort, which is even more popular than it was before the fire.
Owner Linda Lennox says her regular guests are returning and she's also seen an increase in new customers.
"I have guests staying here right now who booked specifically because they wanted to come and see what it looks like after a big fire like that," Lennox said.
"They're curious, you know?"
Lennox is enjoying the steady stream of guests but she's unsure if business will be as brisk next season.
"Do we have the new regulars who say this is their holiday spot or are things going to drop off?" she wondered.
"There's no way to predict it."