SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (CBS13) – Mandatory evacuations have South Lake Tahoe looking like a ghost town just days from the long Labor Day holiday weekend which usually lures tourists.
But as people piled into their cars, animals hit the road too. The flames frightened wildlife, forcing animals from their homes. A CBS13 photographer spotted a bear in the Christmas Valley area running from the flames being pushed down to the valley floor.READ MORE: Minnesota Weather: Sunday Snow To Create Monday Commute Headaches
Local wildlife rescue groups have had their hands full moving all of their animals away from the path of the flames. Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care says it was ready. Within just the last six months, the group used grant money to buy an animal trailer and anxiety-safe crates just in case they had to evacuate.
“We can’t believe what our eyes are showing us. That the devastation and the speed at which fire comes through and the fact that these animals are running for their lives,” said Greg Erfani, LTWC Board Member.
Erfani says in a precautionary move they evacuated the facility ahead of the evacuation order that prompted a massive traffic jam on Highway 50.READ MORE: 'You Are Not Alone': Domestic Violence Interventionists Highlight Resources After Women Murdered In St. Paul
“We were as everybody when we started seeing these fires getting closer and closer there was this panic, you know what are we going to do with all these animals,” Erfani told CBS13. “It was difficult because these are wild animals and our goal is to keep these animals wild. They don’t like human interaction.”
The center was basically able to piecemeal off all the animals to smaller sister organizations like the Gold Country Wildlife Rescue and the California Raptor Center. Their many ambassador animals like Porky the porcupine are now all safe with their handlers.
“They’re all in great hands and they’re protected and now our staff and our volunteers can go and take care of their own homes that are in danger. So animals came first for us,” said Erfani.MORE NEWS: Humanitarian Group Creating Homes, 'Sense Of Relief' For Afghan Refugees Heading To Minnesota
Many want to help, but the staff and animals have been forced out of their facility. They actually can’t take any physical items or food, but they do need financial support. You can donate on the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care website.