Gay resort area Russian River loses power, evacuated due to fires

The town of Guerneville, Calif., a popular vacation spot for the gay and trans community, is currently without electricity due to the fires sweeping (yet again!) across California.

Guerneville is in an area known as Russian River, a prestigious wine growing region of Sonoma County. Russian River has long been a popular vacation destination with beautiful vineyards, and visitors can rent houses surrounded by redwood trees or stay in small hotels. Several hotels in Guerneville cater to gay and trans guests, and host popular parties.

Los Angeles Times reported that Guerneville was evacuated due to the threat of fires, but a hardy group of locals chose to stay behind, waiting for the smell of smoke to alert them that danger has come too close.

That group included Rodger Jensen, proprietor of R3 Hotel, a hotel and bar that is well-known for hosting one of the biggest gay events in Russian River, Lazy Bear Week. Jensen has used his Facebook page to post updates about the situation in Guerneville, as he searched stores in Northern California for gasoline-powered generators and wait for the electric company, PG&E, to restore service. (PG&E is already unpopular with residents, due to their role in the Erin Brockovich story.)

Guerneville has had a hard year. In February 2019, heavy rains throughout Northern California caused the actual Russian River to flood downtown Guerneville, which caused businesses to be closed for months as they repaired structural damage. Fortunately businesses and homes located in the surrounding hills were unaffected. 

On the subject of the California fires, evacuations have also been ordered in northern communities of Los Angeles, as a fire is burning through an area near The Getty Museum. Management of The Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood has offered a 30% discount on room rates for residents who were forced to evacuate their homes due to the fire. As it happens to also be Halloween season, perhaps they will get to see a Tina Turner drag queen sashaying through the lobby?

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