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Independent Voice

Beware of Price Gouging During and After Fire Evacuations

Sep 09, 2021 12:00AM ● By Better Business Bureau Press Release

"We want to help businesses avoid potential problems as our community comes together to help one another in a time of need” 

OAKLAND, CA (MPG) - The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is reminding businesses and consumers of the California law prohibiting excessive price hikes during a state of emergency following California State Governor, Gavin Newsom’s declaration on August 18, 2021 in response to the Caldor Fire. According to CalFire, the Caldor Fire is 20% contained, has burned over 200,000 thousand acres, and has destroyed close to three thousand structures in its way causing mandatory evacuations in and around the South Lake Tahoe area.

“Local businesses may be overwhelmed with the influx of customers following recent evacuations in the South Lake Tahoe area and other communities experiencing these wildfires. We want to help businesses avoid potential problems as our community comes together to help one another in a time of need,” said Lori Wilson, President of the Golden Gate Better Business Bureau.

Industries affected by the consumer protection laws during a state of emergency include, but are not limited to, hotels and other lodging accommodations, gas stations, grocery stores, and rebuilding industries.

If you need to make preparations to stay at a hotel:

Know that according to California law, under Penal Code 396, 30 days after a state of emergency is declared, it is illegal for a business or other entity to sell their goods or services for more than ten percent of their regular rate. This includes hotels, motels, the sale of food items, gasoline, and any goods or services used for emergency cleanup, emergency supplies, and building materials.

Consumers who are told otherwise should file a complaint with their local Better Business Bureau, the California Attorney General and their local District Attorney’s Office.

There is a penalty up to $2,500, one year of jail time, or both per violation; To file a citation please visit or call 800-952-5225.

 For more information on this and other tips please visit

For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands, and charities they can trust. In 2020, people turned to BBB more than 220 million times for BBB Business Profiles on 6.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at The International Association of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.