Businesses can apply for disaster loans after Lake County’s Cache Fire in Northern California

Businesses in seven counties affected by the August 2021 Cache Fire, including Napa, Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties, may qualify for a federal disaster loan of up to $2 million through the U.S. Small Business Administration, according to an announcement from the Sacramento arm of the federal agency.

“Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to businesses of all sizes, most private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters whose property was damaged or destroyed by this disaster,” Tanya N. Garfield, director of the SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West, stated in a press release.

The SBA acted independently to declare the Cache Fire a major disaster and eligible for federal disaster loans after the state and FEMA, which work alongside each other, on Nov. 12 denied an appeal, Luis Santos-Serrano, public information officer for that SBA center, told the Business Journal.

Details were not made available about why the appeal was denied.

The Cache Fire broke out in Clearlake in Lake County on Aug. 18, burning 83 acres. The fire, whose cause remains unknown, was fully contained four days later, on Aug. 23, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Loans of up to $2 million are available to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. Loans also are available to help with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize damage in the case of future events, according to the agency. The disaster declaration also makes SBA financial assistance available in Colusa, Glenn and Yolo counties.

Businesses in Lake County’s neighboring six counties may be eligible for a disaster loan if business was lost as a result of the Cache Fire, such as tourists who otherwise may have visited, or a Lake County-based business that may have an additional location in one of the nearby counties, Santos-Serrano said, noting the SBA will determine eligibility based on each submitted application.

The SBA also is making economic injury funds available to small businesses and nonprofits to help with capital needs, whether or not the organization suffered any property damage, according to the release.

Homeowners and renters in California in the impacted counties also are eligible for the loans.

Disaster loans of up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, according to the SBA. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Interest rates for businesses and private nonprofit organizations can be as low as 2.855% and 2%, respectively, and as low as 1.563% for homeowners and renters, with terms up to 30 years.

Loan amounts and terms will be set by the SBA based on each applicant’s financial situation, according to the release.

The SBA has set up a virtual recovery center for loan applicants (800-659-2955,, The deadlines are Jan. 18 to apply for property damage and Aug. 17 to apply for economic injury.

Cheryl Sarfaty covers tourism, hospitality, health care and education. She previously worked for a Gannett daily newspaper in New Jersey and NJBIZ, the state’s business journal. Cheryl has freelanced for business journals in Sacramento, Silicon Valley, San Francisco and Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from California State University, Northridge. Reach her at or 707-521-4259.

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