IDYLLWILD, Calif. - Plumes of smoke from the Mountain and Silver fires made national headlines last summer. Flames burned thousands of acres and destroyed more than two dozen homes. The town of Idyllwild was evacuated, but the flames didn't reach the community, they only charred its reputation.
More than six months later, many businesses are still trying to bounce back.
"It's been really tough. People get the impression Idyllwild burned down," said shop owner James Fulcher.
"They think the city burned down, that they're going to come up here and it's not going to be a nice experience and the trees are all burned," said shop owner Tom Aronson.
The town survived the fires, but the influx of visitors it usually sees this time of year aren't coming. Small businesses and employees said Friday they're struggling just to make ends meat.
"Every business I talk to is really suffering because business is so down. It's a shame they're not coming," said Fulcher.
"It's sad. I've been up here 20 years. I've never seen this town so empty," said Jamie Starkey, a local waitress at the Lumber Mill.
The small community is now scrambling to find new ways to attract people, including adding new events to its community calendar, and talks of creating an Idyllwild website, which would showcase its beloved attractions.
"We're trying to get the word out the town is green and nothing has changed," said Aronson.
The residents just hope their efforts will draw in business and bring life back to their community.
"It's a great day trip, a great weekend trip, it's a wonderful place," said Fulcher.
"We need people to come here, that's what this community is built from and lives on," said Starkey.