Fires hit Coleville/Walker area again |

Fires hit Coleville/Walker area again

Samantha Fredrickson
Dennis Cabanaugh, owner of the Walker Country Store, stands next to an empty ice cream freezer during a power outage in Walker, Calif. Power is out in Walker and Coleville after the Gate Complex fire burned several miles of power and phone lines that supplied the two communities. Photo by Brian Corley

COLEVILLE — Dennis Cabanaugh barely got over the loss of business from the Cannon fire a month ago and his general store on Highway 395 is getting hit again.

Like 500 other business and homes in the Walker and Coleville area, the Walker Country Store lost power 7 p.m. Sunday when the Gate fire complex burned two miles of power lines.

And with Highway 395 closed from the Holbrook Junction to Highway 89, Cabanaugh’s store is suffering.

Sierra Pacific Power Co. officials hope to have power restored to the area by a 900-kilowatt generator this morning. The generator was brought in from Reno on Monday and set up half a mile from Coleville.

However, power company spokesman Gary Aldax said it would be a couple of weeks before crews would be able to begin repairing the power lines and replacing 50 poles. Until then, residents will get all their power from the generator.

Despite this, Cabanaugh’s business will still suffer.

“It doesn’t stop the loss we’ve had for the last month,” Cabanaugh said, referring to the losses from the Cannon fire.

The general store has lost an estimated $2,000 in refrigerated and frozen products that spoiled when the power went out. And with the highway closed, few customers are stopping at the Walker Country Store.

“We’re right back to where we were,” Cabanaugh said.”I need money now.”

Like other businesses along Highway 395, The Walker Country Store lost customers when the highway was closed for several days during the Cannon fire. This is a big loss for these businesses, which profit most during the summer.

Coleville residents were also struggling to live without power. Simple tasks they had taken for granted became a challenge.

Debra Vandebreke, who lives between Coleville and Walker, wanted to be able to flush the toilet again and take a shower.

But because Coleville and Walker use well water, there was no running water Monday.

“Some people are troupers,” Vandebreke said. “I’m not. I’m used to modern conveniences.”

A fire information center was set up at Coleville School, and water was available to residents at the high school library.

Vandebreke said this fire was affecting her more than the Cannon fire. Besides not having power, she said she was frustrated because of the road closures. She couldn’t get to work, and she couldn’t drive to a grocery store in Gardnerville, the nearest town.

“I’m already extremely irritated,” she said.

Besides no water, residents also lost the ability to cook or store their food.

But residents Neoma and Dieter Hoffmann were not worried.

They have three freezers full of food, but Neoma said it would keep until the power was restored in the morning.

With the 150-acre Coleville fire burning about one mile from his house, Dieter was sitting on his front porch Monday afternoon reading a book. He said he wasn’t worried.

“You have to be prepared if you live out here,” he said. “So far we’ve managed OK.”