Over the past few months, firefighters have been practicing on the former Lakeside Inn.
The ex-casino is scheduled to be torn down for a clinic by new owners Barton Healthcare System to make room for their Stateline campus.
While waiting for construction season to begin, Tahoe-Douglas and East Fork firefighters have been conducting training in the 54,000 square foot structure.
“This has been a great opportunity for a multicompany drill thanks to Barton,” Tahoe Douglas Fire Marshal Eric Guevin said. “We’re able to do real-world training — breach walls, cut through ceilings — all things we couldn’t normally do.”
One thing firefighters won’t be able to do is set anything on fire to put it out.
“We can’t light fires, so we use smoke machines and training modalities,” he said. “This is a great set for us. This training helps save lives in the future.”
Guevin said the training opportunity isn’t limited to the building.
Firefighters have brought cars to the parking lot so they can practice extrication techniques.
Practice has been ongoing at the building for most of the year, so far, but will have to wrap up as early as April, when the Lakeside will be demolished.
South Lake Tahoe firefighters have been able to participate as well.
“It has been a great training season for us,” Guevin said. “Because the events center is being built across the highway, we’ve been able to do some walk-throughs there.”
Closed in the coronavirus lockdown two years ago Thursday, the Lakeside never reopened in 2020.
In May 2021, Barton announced purchased the casino for $13.3 million.
The casino opened as the Lakeside on May 24, 1985, after investors purchased the former Harvey’s Inn.
Harvey’s Resort sold the property saying it was necessary so they could focus on an expansion project. The casino opened as the Caesars Inn in 1968 before it was purchased by Harvey Gross in 1972. The property was once home to the first airport in the Lake Tahoe Basin, Tahoe Sky Harbor, which opened May 30, 1946.
The airport was located just north of the casino near Kahle Drive and opened with a 4,200-foot-long turf runway. It didn’t last long and was closed sometime in the first years of the 1950s.
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