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Bears bring bad news during Lake Tahoe fire evacuation

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — When the Caldor Fire gobbled up pine trees and crossed the Sierra Nevada last week, South Lake Tahoe, a scenic community of 22,000 people on the California-Nevada state line, transformed into a smoke-choked ghost town.

After worrying throughout all of last week about the fire approaching their homes and landmarks they hold dear, residents who returned Monday said they were thankful firefighters had stopped the blazes on the town’s doorstep. But it appeared most residents remained away and most shops remained closed in usually thriving Labor Day destination town.

Authorities warned residents, that in the absence of humans, bears had gone to town, spreading trash. “The delicate balance between humans and bears has been upset,” and anyone who thinks a bear may have entered their home should call law enforcement, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Sgt. Simon Brown said.

The Bay Area’s KTVU Fox 2 said police reported that 15 out of 17 possible break-in calls were actually “bear burglaries.”

Chirawat Mekrakseree said he had seen signs of bears sifting through the trash at his restaurant on Lake Tahoe Boulevard, My Thai Cuisine.

Mekrakseree plans to reopen and start serving curries and noodle dishes on Wednesday but worries the tourists he depends on may not come back while the smoke lingers. And he doesn’t know what to tell his staff about when business will return to normal after an already uncertain year with the pandemic, he said.

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