Lowman-area business owner bought just weeks before Pioneer Fire

Fire is a blessing and a curse
Posted at 10:36 PM, Aug 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-09 00:36:03-04

The Pioneer Fire near Lowman is threatening homes and has some owners on alert for possible evacuation. 

Now that the Pioneer Fire has jumped the road, shutting down access the town of Lowman, many of the businesses in the area are suffering from the lack of traffic.

However, one new business owner says the fire has actually been a blessing and a curse.

"We knew that fire was a part of the environment up here," said Chris Armour, "but we didn't know that we would be dealing with it this quickly."

Chris and his wife took a leap of faith and decided to purchase the South Fork Lodge in Lowman, which is nestled right on the river.

Little did they know, just three weeks after the big purchase, everything around them would literally go up in smoke.

"Starting a new business is stressful, and there's a lot of things you need to learn anyways, and then on top of that to deal with this -- it's a challenge," said Chris. 

With the access into Lowman completely shut down, their employees cannot get to work, and their customers cannot get to their reservations. But that does not mean the lodge is empty. It is actually just the opposite; they are full. 

"The firefighters were really the first people to stay in the rooms. And if it weren't for the firefighters, we would have no business," said Chris. "It would be very, very tough. Especially as a brand-new business."

While they have not been able to open the restaurant, they have been staying very busy cleaning rooms and making the fire crews comfortable. In some ways, it is almost like a soft opening for them to work out any of the new business kinks.

The firefighters who are not staying in the lodge have set up camp right in their backyard.

"It's very welcome. We are very happy to have the firefighters here because, you know, we figure if the firefighters are going to set up camp nearby, the fire is probably not going to come here," said Chris. "At least they are not going to try to keep it away anyway."

While the fire situation is not ideal for any new business owner, Chris says he know it could be much worse.

He is just thankful for everything the fire crew has done and looking forward to the day when all of this is over.

"Everybody needs to come and stay at the South Fork Lodge as soon as this is done," said Chris.