Officials want to prevent an invasion of bears in some of the Colorado Springs communities evacuated from the Waldo Canyon wildfire.
Since evacuations orders began expiring Saturday, free large Dumpsters have been provided for returning evacuees. The Dumpsters allow residents to dispose of as much trash and garbage as possible, as quickly as possible.
The Dumpsters have been available during the day and removed at night to avoid attracting bears. One Dumpster remains in use from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. at Eagleview Middle School, 1325 Vindicator Drive.
"We were evacuated for five nights," said former evacuee Wendy Geisler. "We don't know how long the electricity was out, but long enough that you just don't want to take a chance. My (normal) trash removal is delayed, and we've had bears on our street constantly. I was excited to bring my trash here and not store it in my garage."
Al Olson, another former evacuee, said he hated to throw away some trout he had caught at at local lake.
"But it was probably time to clean the freezer anyway," he said.
Having a Dumpster so close to the devastated Mountain Shadows area is a positive sign, said Cathy Crawley, a city employee overseeing the Dumpster at Eagleview.
"If they've got bad food, that means they've got a refrigerator and their house didn't burn down," she said.
Michael Seraphin of Colorado Parks & Wildlife said the fire forced some bears that already lived in the area, into residential neighborhoods to search for food, but did not cause an influx of bears from outside the area.
"There still are some green areas within the burn zone that bears can utilize," he said. "In the long run, fires are good for wildlife."